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Army Lessons For Your Front Line

Posted by on 3 August 2018

Army Lessons For Your Front Line

Should your organisation learn a lesson from The Army?  It seems strange to suggest that civilian organisations look to The Army for inspiration for their own operation, but when it comes to training and development there may be a valuable lesson to learn.

The Army expects all of its personnel to undergo further training ahead of each new promotion; training that provides the skills the individual needs to be successful on the “next rung up”.  Preparation training for Army personnel moving from Soldier (non-management) to Officer (management) roles is seen as especially important.  How many of us can say our own organisations equip our people for success in the same focused way?  In particular how many of our own organisations provide excellent training and support for our people making the move from non-management to management and leadership roles?

Answering these questions honestly usually reveals that people are promoted to management and leadership roles simply because they excelled at their previous non-management role.  The expectation seems to be that if someone is great at their role, then they will inevitably be good at getting others to be great at that role too….won’t they?

Happily the answer is usually yes.  However this will not happen naturally but, just as in the example of The Army, will need focused training and support.  The talent truth here is that people management is unique and demands competencies and behaviours that non-managers have not typically needed or used.  Being a specialism expert responsible for personal individual delivery in a role is fundamentally different from being a leader of people responsible for delivery through others.  The first requires personal effectiveness skills and commitment behaviours, the second requires leadership skills and emotionally intelligent behaviours.

The good news here is that although there is definitely a gap between specialism expert and people leader, training can effectively bridge the gap, enabling people to successfully move from one to the other.  Equipping your managers-to-be through training in key management skills such as delegation, objective setting, appraisal and communication will greatly improve their success in their new and very different role.  This success will be further enhanced if you also provide for them support such as coaching to help them with additional personal challenges of the transition, such as moving from peer to leading previous peers.

So the challenge here is to use The Army benchmark to consider whether your organisation properly equips its own front-line for success…and if the answer is no, to take action.

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