Let’s say you’re competitively hiring for a new role at your company, in which this individual will oversee the performance and responsibilities of four existing employees. You find the perfect candidate: she’s charismatic, brimming with ideas, and has a deep background in the field and your industry. The only hang up is she’s never had direct reports in prior roles. Does this deter you from moving forward with her as a candidate?
You decide to make her an offer. She joins the company and is immediately introduced to her new team, and the expectations of the team are laid out. So, how do you ensure this new supervisor can not only get her own work done, but also be responsible for the project management and performance of her team of four?
Then add this to the mix: two of her team members work on the other side of the country, out of their home offices, while another two go into a corporate office most days but prefer to work nontraditional hours.
It sounds complicated. But really, it’s not. In a dispersed work environment, like that of Sikich, the solution to upskilling individuals who may not traditionally be people managers is two-fold: trust and education. With those elements in place, people are empowered to work where and how they work best – knowing they have the full support of their supervisors and, thus, the organization’s leadership.
Trust promotes confidence
At Sikich, we support our people leaders with, first and foremost, a foundation of trust. We ensure they prioritize collaboration, productivity and our culture in the ways that best meet their team’s unique needs. Our leaders will always know they can come to me when support or counsel is needed – but they also know I fully back their abilities to make decisions independently that will contribute to the overall goals of our organization.
In a dispersed work environment, no two groups are alike. It’s not uncommon to find some teams at Sikich meet online weekly to maintain productivity, while others take time to occasionally collaborate in-person. Ultimately, effective teamwork isn’t one-size-fits-all. The ways we nurture our leaders instills trust in them to make decisions that benefit their teams and clients, while fostering a culture of accountability throughout the organization.
No matter where our people sit or how often we meet face-to-face, we’re going to encounter setbacks in a multi-dimensional organization, no doubt about it. However, our upskilling model encourages growth among our leaders, individual teams and our organization. Growth (which we are aggressively pursuing) leads to change. Fully aware of this, our organization’s leadership team fosters a trusting, inclusive environment where we’re anticipating and addressing obstacles to keep us forward-thinking.
Education for ongoing upskilling
To ensure our people remain aligned with the overarching vision for our organization, we commit to ongoing education for all employees, regardless of their tenure, experience or seniority.
Our internal training and education platform offers a variety of courses, including a comprehensive curriculum both online and in-person. We bring together external experts, group exercises and individual projects to form robust, intensive programs. We’ve also incorporated an anonymous feedback mechanism, in which managers’ teams offer constructive thoughts to gauge managers’ strengths and areas of improvement. While these programs last a number of months, the training doesn’t stop there, as we have ongoing learning opportunities and required courses for management.
Further, we know leaders aren’t born (I realize there are exceptions), so we have training and development for more than just our people managers. Our curriculum includes dedicated programming for: employees with less than a year of professional experience at Sikich; employees ready to transition into their next role; and employees that can expect to have direct reports in the near future. Each course is carefully curated to meet the current and future needs of our people.
Ultimately, our journey involves elements of experimentation, learning from failures and discovering holistic solutions. We’re committed to adapting and nurturing an environment where leaders can thrive, and growth is grounded in potential. So, I encourage you to hire that candidate with great ideas but no past management experience. When we invest in providing the resources our people need to prosper without stringent oversight, demonstrating to our people that they should work how they work best, the rest seems to fall into place.