Is Your Team Following Blindly Or Being Taught The Right Route?

July 23, 2013

As a manager and leader we have a responsibility as a role model for the people we lead. Sometimes our bad habits are followed by our team and we need to be aware of the future impact this will have.

So what can we do to ensure that our employees create and develop the right skills in the right way?

Carry Out A Self-Assessment

Taking time out to undertake an assessment of your own management and leadership skills is often a worthwhile investment for the future. Whilst it is good to remember that we are all doing the best with the resources we have, it pays to reflect on what we can do better.

This is a situation where it is also worth considering using a 360o feedback tool (see below). This tool enables different people in the business to provide feedback often anonymously. Gaining views at different levels including team members, peers and managers provides a better overall impression of skills.

Once this has been completed, work with a coach either inside or outside the business who can help you interpret the results as well as pull together your own development plan.

Undertake A Skills Matrix

A skills matrix is a structured way of identifying, recording and planning for the skills and knowledge in your team. Using a Word table or Excel spreadsheet, the names of your team are listed along one axis and the skills / knowledge required in the team against the other. It is possible to pin point possible shortfalls in expertise.

The skills matrix can also be used to check the level of cover for each role as well as different levels of authority in your absence.

Focus On The Strengths

Putting together the skills matrix can be a good activity to help people to recognise the skills and knowledge they already possess as well as possible gaps. It will also show that you are prepared to develop people with a view to making them more valuable to the organisation.

Be careful to emphasise their good points when planning improvements. Maybe focus one maybe two areas rather than overwhelm them with too many in one go.

Identify Activities For Plugging The Gaps

There are a variety of methods for helping your team members gain the skills, knowledge and experience they need. If you have the capacity it might be possible for individuals to shadow colleagues before letting them loose. There is always a danger that bad habits are copied from one person to another in this method and you may want to stress the importance of learning it the ‘correct’ way.

Giving employees the opportunity to attend external ‘open courses’ will them gain a different perspective and bring new ideas from people at other organisations. Gaining formal qualifications from accredited organisations like the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) or the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM) may appeal to many employees and help attract new ones. Some organisations ask employees to contribute should they decide to leave within a specified timescale.

Build In Regular Reviews

Undertaking the development activity should be the start note the finish. Ensure that you hold a de-briefing after the event to capture how they intend to use what they have learned for the benefit of the organisation and themselves. This should then be followed up by further reviews to see whether it is working or they need further support.

Taking stock of your own skills and that held within the team enables much more informed planning. It is a great way to see whether we have been led by events or whether we are driving it. It was once said that the best way to predict the future is to create it.

If you are interested in the 360 degree feedback tool, external ‘open course’ or studying for formal qualifications accredited through the ILM or ISMM, please contact MTD Training for more information.

Many thanks

Scott Rumsey

Senior Management Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Chan Pipat at

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