Most people would be aware of the famous line “Show me the money” delivered by Cuba Gooding Jr in the movie Jerry Maguire. In modern day business it could be said that is actually a metaphor for “We will not invest into a service or product until you convince us there is a return for our organisation”. Who could blame any company or organisation for taking that stance, money is scarce and to give it away recklessly is not in their respective interests.

Much more scrutiny is being applied by some larger organisations to potential investment in the development of their people, they are seeking not only value for money but are seeking an element of forward thinking in how they can broaden the skills of their managers. To date we are yet to see this change of strategy and thinking in the broader market.

Not unlike others my company has faced this challenge as it has embarked on the promotion of the development ofAwareness amongst Australian managers. Any new departure from convention will always encounter resistance but I am convinced we need to stimulate discussion in this area.

It could have been very easy to fall into line and continue to market my long experience in educating managers in leadership skills; after all it has been the watchword of today and a great deal of faith has been placed on it achieving the desired results. The problem I have with this line of thinking is I believe after observing, surveying and talking to business clients it no longer totally satisfies their needs in terms of the current business environment.

It is suggested in several quarters we have reached a state of saturation in the matter of leadership development with comments being received regarding the use of “hype” and misdirection of the focus that is required especially for managers.

We have entered into a period of transition which will culminate in the retirement of a whole generation of the workforce “baby boomers” in 2023 so we have a pressing need to ensure we have competent well skilled managers ready to assume full responsibility for organisations.

The pressures of managing organisations is increasingly problematic and it is becoming essential that managers who may be potential leaders are fully equipped to handle the many diverse challenges that face them. Many of the programs being offered seem to indicate we can develop leaders instantly almost eliminating vital steps without the aid of some fundamental principles that can convert managers into accomplished leaders.

It is a simple exercise to list a number of significant changes in business and our lives in the past few years:

People behaviours, attitudes, motivations.
Changing Economic conditions, Global Markets.
Increased competition
Generational Changes
Organisational Structures (Leaner & Flatter)
Social Change

It could be suggested that all the changes listed above have required a change of mindset and how they affect us in our respective positions.

An argument against my proposition of promoting awareness is that never before has the population received such an enormous amount of information from so many channels and people are certainly have greater access to knowledge. This can be countered due to the plethora of opinion related pieces of information now available who’s either comments or data may not have a factual base. This is causing a high degree of speculation and frustration leaving the task of decision-making extremely difficult additionally increasing the pressure on managers how and what they communicate with employees.
The question might be asked “How do we convince companies the value of education of their managers regarding various awareness topics and the value this can bring”?

At the beginning of this article I used the phrase from popular culture saying, “Show me the money”. Is that the answer to future development or is there more to it? Let me share some topics raised in our recent research.

1 Self-Awareness
In the case of managers it has never been more important to be self-aware, this is especially when managing staff, your personal style and how you are perceived have a great influence on the culture of an organisation. It is often said that people do not leave their employment because of the company they leave because of conflicts with their managers. In terms of costs to find replacements in these scenarios and to conduct new training can be very expensive indeed. People who maintain positions of authority can make or break departments or a team.

2 Resilience
In a mixture of circumstances the issue of resilience has become a major consideration regarding skills of managers. Whether it be a crisis caused by a specific event or modern day pressures and heightened responsibilities. It is has been contended but that it cannot be taught, we beg to differ; by building up the confidence and esteem of managers it can act as positive tools in how they react in times of difficulty and lead to the inspiration of others.
The benefits of teaching resilience range from the emergence of leadership from individuals to minimising risk and loss from negative events and situations which occur in the life of any business.
3 Understanding People
Of all the changes we have witnessed in recent times has been the changes in the behaviours, attitudes and aspirations of people. How to communicate with workforces individually and collectively has tested many organisations not only in Australia but across the globe. The task of understanding respective needs and more pointedly the aspirations of people can add up to a great deal of management time at a huge cost. All managers need to have a clear understanding of the landscape regarding people not only of today but what is probably required in the future. It is often remarked that people are an organisation’s lifeblood, that is certainly the case but managers need to understand the personality characteristics of his or her team to get the best out of them.

4 Knowing Your Business & Economic Developments
To be effective managers require a wide understanding of their business and changing factors which may have implications for their respective organisation. This knowledge can also enable them to identify measures and opportunities which can be beneficial in the successful running of an operation. The ability of a manager to deliver factual information to others will be the key to developing and sustained cultures.
In the last few years Australia has recognised the need to form new economic partnerships especially in the Asia Pacific region , this has resulted in the negotiation of several Free Trade Agreements including Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and most recently China. Hopefully this will result in increased economic activity and growth for our economy. The challenge will be for Australian business to harness opportunities and deal with increased completion in our markets. It will be imperative that our managers are fully aware and informed on the possible implications for their respective businesses.

5 Managing up

As mentioned earlier we will see the imminent retirement of a section of the workforce together with the emergence of a new group of people entering management. With the impending “changing of the guard” this has brought into focus how business can face some serious challenges in the next 8-10 years regarding the relationships between all the generations and their replacements. It would appear that there is not a complete meeting of minds in terms of decision-making and we have seen numerous conflicts occur in terms of style. It makes sense Australian business resolves these issues as it can is hamper the efficiency and smooth transition. We suggest some kind of facilitation and training be introduced to assist in resolving this issue this problem. The monetary effects of the impasse which we are seeing a sense of inertia occurring and hamper future progress and efficiency as intergenerational conflict occurs. Our research tells us where a structure of coaching and mentoring has been introduced favourable results have been achieved.

Apart from the seemingly advantageous monetary considerations of introducing awareness development training there appears to be another disturbing trend that needs to be addressed. That is the demotivation to absorb leadership learnings following the completion of program participants citing what can be called “Same old same old”. The consequences for companies is that their investment may not be delivering the returns once envisaged; the clear message being delivered is that the people seek alternative ways to be inspired.

In writing this article it is not my intention to besmirch the name of leadership education providers rather to bring about serious recognition that in line with the many changes we are now living with I feel that is time to adopt a broader vision in our training methods. There are aspects of leadership training which will forever need to be taught but to group all management education around the subject is spectacularly short sighted. I declare I have a commercial interest in seeing this development take root nevertheless from my long experience in management matters everything I see and hear tells me this is a direction companies should at least consider.

We are reminded on a daily basis that we are immersed in challenging times but tend to ignore we live in an age where numerous opportunities exist. Our future will depend on what tools and paths we choose in insulating ourselves when difficulties arise by upskilling our management skills and seizing those opportunities when they present themselves.

Ken Wood
Banyan Management Services

Banyan Man. Serv. facilitates a range of programs around Awareness these include public offerings together with tailored sessions for private companies and organisations. Please refer to our website for further information:
Alternatively you can call: 1800 555 678