Last weekend I went on a day’s family bushcraft course (thanks to Komaru Outdoors for such a great day!). Our day was more about having fun than serious learning, but the owners do run more corporate and social sessions with more emphasis on learning and development.
Often, their clients are used to living in a black and white world: right and wrong, love and hate, my way or the high way. They learn about collaboration, team work and problem-solving and can then take these new inclusive skills into their workplaces and communities.
The course leader and I were chatting. He assumed that (in my role as a training consultant) I was dealing with similar issues. The fact is, we are dealing with total opposites: He works with people who have all the ‘hard’ skills they’ll ever need – in fact, in many cases, these hard skills are over-done and over-relied on. They need to be balanced with what’s traditionally be termed ‘soft’ skills, but really it’s about people skills. They know WHAT to do, but they only have one way of doing it, which may not always be the best way.
In my small part of the corporate training universe, most of the clients I work with have got managers who are very good at the ‘softer’ stuff (which is actually the hard stuff, because it’s intangible, but that’s another blog!). They coach, listen, include, have regular conversations BUT making difficult decisions, following processes and giving clear instructions is harder for them. That’s why my work for the last 12 months has been about focussing on WHAT managers need to do, rather than the HOW.
No matter what the environment you need both. People are made of skin and bone, and we need to be managed with a bit of hard and soft stuff: I appreciate that if you work in a hospital or on a construction site for example managers need to be decisive, know the procedure (rules) and have a no tolerance attitude to deviation. But even in these environments, some things are better managed from a more collaborative approach. People need to feel the security that their manager knows what they are doing. They need to trust their decisions and feel confident that doing as they are told is the right things to do. On the other hand, we also have a strong need to contribute, to be recognised, to develop and challenge/innovate.
If you need a bespoke approach to getting the balance right in your organisation, please get in touch and we’ll see if we can help.