Companies that have traditionally rewarded employees for productivity understand that there might be another factor that makes management more effective: Strategic thinking. In fact, the Management Research Group (MRG), an assessment design consulting company, found that a strategic approach to leadership is 10 times more important to the perception of effectiveness than other skills. Even communication, which comes in second, is only half as important as strategic thinking in determining effectiveness.
Here are a several ways your organization can train for effective, strategic managers:
- Apprenticeships/Mentorships: Partner employees who display potential with those who’ve mastered strategic management. Apprenticeships allow learners to become familiar with a skill and watch that skill being demonstrated by an accomplished practitioner.
- Simulations: Business simulations allow managers to learn and manipulate complex scenarios without the risk of real-world consequences. Scenarios allow managers to gain relevant experience more quickly than life may provide.
- Case Studies: By studying business scenarios, managers can build the skill of understanding what factors lead to which outcomes. Publishers such as Harvard Business Publishing, The Case Centre and Ivey Publishing offer libraries where cases are available for purchase.
- Build strategic thinking skills into your overall corporate training strategy – If you offer regular onsite training or continuing education benefits to your employees, encourage managers to include strategic thinking skills in their training choices. Read How to Create a Leadership Development Program for Your Business.
Finally, while saying strategic thinking is important, developing an organizational culture of strategic thinkers can be challenging. The day to day crush of responding to immediate demands often overwhelms a slower paced strategic response. Robert Kabacoff, author of the MRG Strategic Leader report, shares these methods for fostering strategic thinking in your organization’s management approach:
- Give managers time! Encourage your team to build a habit of setting aside time for strategic planning.
- Keep your managers informed. Strategic thinking depends on having information ready to hand about both the organization you are working in and the industry at large.
- Communicate your organization’s vision. Managers can’t steer their teams towards a destination if they don’t know where they’re going.
- Reward the effort of strategic thinking, even when experiments sometimes go wrong. Encourage evaluation of mistakes instead of punishment. A punitive approach will only suppress creative experimentation.