Competency-Based Training for Industrial Leaders Development

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Competency-Based Training: Building Essential Skills for Industrial Leaders

The demands on front line leaders continue to evolve, and the traditional approach to skill development is undergoing a significant transformation. Organizations, driven by the need to empower leaders quickly, are moving towards a training strategy called Competency-Based Training (CBT).

How can you drive development plans where attaining leadership excellence is not just an aspiration but a big part of the organization’s learning management system?

Skill Development Through Competency-Based Training (CBT)

Due to retirements, changing of new talent, and internal promotions there is a high demand for manufacturing companies to enhance the skills and capabilities of their managers quickly. Gradually forming skills over time may no longer align with the priorities of the workplace. In response, companies are seeking programs that can help empower a manager to hit the ground running and contribute meaningfully to the company from day one.

It can take a long time for new leaders to learn, which can slow down how well the organization works and make it harder to reach goals. This is why it is important to provide a robust learning and development program that highlights teamwork and essential skills ensuring that managers are competent and poised for their roles.

Many courses tended to be generic, offering a broad overview of principles without going into the specific details of how a particular organization operates or its established best practices. This often resulted in a hit-or-miss scenario, where managers might acquire knowledge and skills that are not directly applicable to their roles.

CBT operates on the principle that competency gaps, and the behaviors and outcomes, should be the focal point of the initiatives put forward. Rather than offering a wide range of theories, CBT hones in on the specific skills and knowledge that will directly drive performance and success within an organization.

Tailoring Training to Drive Performance

CBT begins with an assessment that examines the competencies that are important for success in a particular organizational context. This involves understanding the unique challenges, goals, and operational issues that leaders face. With this clarity, training courses can be tailor-made to ensure the learning experiences hit each mark senior leaders need. The emphasis is on targeted, efficient learning that aligns with the organization’s succession planning.

In addition to learning essential skills right away, CBT encourages an environment of ongoing improvement and adaptability. This structured approach not only accelerates the learning curve but also establishes a shared language and set of expectations across the organization.

Understanding Competency-Based Training

Think of competencies as being the behaviors and outcomes you require your manufacturing team to demonstrate consistently and confidently. If they struggle to demonstrate their abilities consistently, then the organization provides further instruction until the manager and organization are confident in their ability to perform that skill or technique. They are not measured by a test, they are measured on their real-world performance—their ability to achieve the desired outcome.

If your organization needs front line supervisors who can effectively lead a team to troubleshoot basic problems that come up on the shop floor. A supervisory training program should help them get the desired results through their team. Focusing specifically on the skills that supervisors need to accomplish this, such as teaching them, how to empower their teams to resolve problems, work through conflict, and communicate effectively. Through coaching and mentoring they will become a greater value to the organization.

If the supervisor is unable to perform those skills consistently, they may need additional support. We know that everyone learns differently and at their own pace. One of the benefits of online learning is that they can do just that—focus on each competency with LMS. Online training allows the participants to learn the same teaching across an organization but also allows each learner to work self-paced.

Key Industrial Leadership Competencies 

Most manufacturing leadership development programs will include these key competencies:

  • Communicating effectively: clarifying expectations, listening, asking effective questions, and using the best mix of words, tone, and body language.
  • Managing conflict: how to deal with emotional situations and mediate a conflict.
  • Motivating a multi-generational workforce: creating a welcoming environment to increase retention.
  • Addressing behavior and performance issues: whether it be in the moment, in disciplinary talks or reinforcing positive behaviors.
  • Leading change: taking an experimental perspective to overcome skepticism and allow change initiatives to succeed.
  • Empowering: creating more self-sufficient team members and taking on problem-solving and decision-making without being overly reliant.
  • Accountability and ownership: applying a mix of positive and constructive consequences for performance.
  • Problem-solving: making effective decisions both independently and collaboratively with the team.

Building a Competency-Based Training Plan for Leaders

Here are two key steps:

  1. Identify areas for improvement that are specific to the work your supervisors are expected to perform, including any leader standard work related to continuous improvement.
  2. Determine the best way to move forward and be sure to prioritize the tools and methods that will lead to better operating performance, employee engagement, and business results.

Most organizations do not have the internal expertise to develop leaders. Partnering with an external training and development company can bring faster results than trying to create competency models and a curriculum internally.

Future Trends in Leadership Training

Several trends are in place to shape initiatives and help manufacturing teams develop the skills they need to get better at their positions. These trends are smart moves that show an understanding of how organizations can succeed.

Integration with Leader Standard Work

As organizations look deeper into lean manufacturing and continuous improvement methodologies, the combination of leadership training with Leader Standard Work (LSW) emerges as a trend. LSW explains the important tasks and duties leaders have for doing things within the context of operational excellence. By aligning leadership training with LSW, organizations create a seamless connection between leadership development and the strategic priorities of the business. This connection makes sure that leadership skills are not separate from the everyday needs within the organization but are closely linked to making the organization successful.

The Rise of Blended Learning

Blended learning, which combines online courses, virtual sessions, and live sessions with instructors, is becoming more popular. This recognizes the varied learning preferences and schedules. On-demand modules offer flexibility allowing access to materials at their convenience. Virtual sessions provide a dynamic and interactive learning environment, whether your teams are in the same facility or not, fostering engagement and collaboration. Live, instructor-led training adds a human touch, enabling real-time interaction and personalized guidance. The fusion of these approaches ensures a comprehensive and adaptive experience.

Operational Priorities Driving Training Efforts

Matching leadership training with the goals of daily operations is a smart trend that is very effective. Organizations are recognizing that leadership development should not exist in isolation but rather be linked to the broader goals and challenges of the business. 

Placing real-world examples, scenarios, and situations into modules enhances both effectiveness and engagement. By presenting challenges and problem-solving scenarios that closely mirror the actual work environment, leaders gain valuable learning. This also equips leaders with the skills and insights needed to navigate the complexities of their roles. It is much more ideal to have leadership training that focuses on practical application, and preparing team members for real-world challenges rather than being a theoretical exercise.

Using Competency-Based for Employee Training

Training Within Industry (TWI) is a proven way to break down job tasks into easily digestible pieces to build the employee’s confidence, competence, and consistency. There are several aspects of the TWI Program; we tend to focus on Job Instruction, commonly known as  OJT “on-the-job training”. The person doing the instructing has to be carefully selected as the leaders must know the job well and understand all the steps necessary. Here are the four steps of the Job Instruction Methodology.

  1. Create a timetable: What skills should be learned and by when.
  2. Break down the job: Make a list of important steps and pick out key points such as safety.
  3. Have everything ready: Materials, equipment, and supplies.
  4. Arrange the work area: Have the work area properly arranged, so that the team member knows how it should be kept.

Most courses are unfortunately delivered in a haphazard, piecemeal, disorganized manner, relying on the buddy system to gain the skills required on the job. The best trainers are usually good at explaining job tasks, providing feedback, and being patient in re-explaining key aspects of the job. 

In the same way that leadership is measurable in increasing the proficiency of specific leadership tasks, employee training can be more efficient and more effective when it targets specific job skills linked to job performance, organizational performance and results.

At Unique Training & Development, we offer customized programs, whether onsite or virtual, designed to meet the specific needs of organizations. The programs cover a range of topics and modules. Organizations can choose from a wide variety of options. 

Implementing competency-based training for leaders will not only help your team members make informed decisions but also the efficiency and effectiveness of the program itself can help leaders see the resulting impact on productivity, quality, and employee engagement. We are excited to discuss what your needs are. Contact us today to find out more.


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