Do small business owners spend enough time taking stock of their leaders’ skill sets?
It’s easy to assume the leaders in your organization are skilled in all facets of their job. They’re in leadership because of their advanced skills, right? Many may skip over management and just look at the front line employees.
With the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Bodacious Shops, Bubba’s Sweet Spot and Studer Properties, we felt we were in the same boat as most small businesses with the close of 2016.
We had some nice wins. We progressed in some areas, and we had items where we must do better.
So where do we start?
We’re reviewing the skills we have within our leadership first. Let me be clear; that doesn’t mean our 2016 “misses” were solely because of someone in leadership.
However, if we don’t have a solid inventory of where our leadership strengths are – and which skills need to be developed – we could be spending time in development elsewhere in the organization and overlooking this crucial self-analysis. It is vital for all employees to have a skilled leader.
At the Studer Family of Companies, we have created a new form that has each person in a management role rate their skill set from 1 to 10 in 15 different categories.
Here’s an example: Running an effective meeting. We know that’s a must-have skill for a leader.
Which skills should you rate? Each organization is different, so my suggestion is to take time to list what skills the leaders in your organization must have.
These usually include items such as hiring, development, time management, customer service, performance coaching, process improvement, expense management and more.
Once the manager has completed the form assessing their skills, their direct supervisor also rates the manager in each category from 1-10.
This creates the basis of a development plan.
The leader and their supervisor meet and review the list and the corresponding ratings. They do a deeper dive into areas where there is a lack of agreement on the rating.
Prioritization comes next.
The next column is a place to each to rate how vital the skill is for this particular leader – Very Important (VI), Important (I), Unimportant (U), Very Unimportant (VU).
For example, Donna Kirby, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos vice president of operations, would mark hiring as “Very Important.” But Amber McClure, the Blue Wahoos Chief Financial Officer, has a very small staff, so she would mark it as “Unimportant” or “Very Unimportant.”
Keep this in mind, though: Amber may express to her boss that while hiring is not a priority in her day-to-day responsibilities, it is an area she would like to develop for her future growth.
In the long term, these skill assessments can also be helpful in the hiring process if a current employee leaves. You now have a documented list of skills required of leaders that can be used during job interviews.
You often see me write about explaining the “why.” January is the time when the challenge of what it will take to achieve company goals becomes very apparent.
Without a clear roadmap, and no “why” at the end of the tunnel, most people and organizations stall out. They may even go backward.
The process described here, though, can build a culture of development throughout an organization. Being a small business owner is tough. So is being a manager. By investing in the development of managers’ skills, everyone benefits.
If you want to evaluate the values of an organization, just take a look at the investment it makes in the development of the most important part of the company: Its people.