Why Workplace Skills Instead of Leadership Strategies Should Be…

There is certainly no shortage of leadership-based programming for students to pursue in higher education. However, focusing on managerial methods and expanding the curriculum on executive development may lead some students to believe they can run before they know how to walk.

Although college students today are more educated than previous generations, they also have less work experience than their peers in the past. To address this, business schools must focus more on developing what it takes to be a productive employee, rather than just a responsible person.

Students will not start out as managers, and not all managers are business school graduates. Management studies emerged in the early twentieth century as a means of determining how best to structure an organization and to supervise its employees. As factories and industrial sites have given rise to bloated businesses, reliable and rule-based methods have been developed and academics have taken an interest in workplace dynamics.

Over time, the leadership and control style of management has waned as the United States has shifted to a knowledge-based economy, and business education has shifted to promoting communication and collaboration within the workplace.

As such, today’s business students are learning why managers should encourage employee engagement and create empowerment opportunities, rather than simply provide oversight—and herein lies the problem. Undergraduates pursuing degrees in management and leadership may be disappointed when joining the workforce in an entry-level position, with limited ability to put their studies into practice immediately.

Furthermore, recent graduates may also have a strong sense of what their supervisor might be doing wrong, especially if their supervisor is not well-versed in the methods and techniques currently taught in college classrooms. This is concerning, since a lack of trust or respect for managers leads to lower levels of productivity, affecting not only performance but also employee morale.

This is not to say that leadership strategies and management theory should not be taught, but it seems that basic business acumen is what is most needed at the moment, especially as the trend of quiet quitting is ongoing and the skills gap is proving to be persistent. .

Students need to develop their skills and endurance if they are to succeed.

Work experience for those entering university is in decline, as the emergence of students outside the curricula has replaced part-time work, and more recently, such opportunities have been hampered by pandemic policies.

Working while young plays an important role in a teen’s life, not primarily to earn extra income, but to practice early soft skills. Soft skills are human-centered competencies that are better developed over time through practical real-world experience. In particular, competencies related to creativity, critical thinking, and decision-making, along with collaboration and communication, are of great interest to employers looking to acquire talent. Not having it is really worrying.

In a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 79 percent of CEOs worldwide thought poor preparation was a concern, while another survey, run by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), found the ability to handle ambiguity, communicate effectively, and harness creativity. It was also lacking in smaller cohorts of workers. Both surveys were conducted in 2019, before the pandemic, and the skills gap has since widened beyond concerns in the workplace to concerns about just being an adult.

Not only do companies face poorly prepared workforce, but they also face a cultural shift in work-related sentiments.

According to ResumeBuilder.com, “26 percent of workers admit that they do the bare minimum or less” and the term smoking cessation is gaining traction in reference to the rejection of the hustle at work. But Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, recently drew attention to why this is a bad idea.

Companies need to do everything they can to motivate and engage their employee base – from hiring chief happiness officers, to installing employee satisfaction programs, to incurring the costs of reskilling and reskilling through learning and development programmes.

Organizational leaders must make some tough decisions regarding worker autonomy and accountability and adjust their processes to comply with the changing landscape of workplace relationships and expectations. And if companies are doing their part, so should universities.

More effort should be directed towards providing students from the start with the skill sets they need most, as well as theories of management practice. It also seems that the value of a good old-fashioned work ethic should be taught, if possible.

It is clear that the field of business is constantly evolving and that is why management strategies as well as educational instructions must change accordingly.

Kimberly Josephson

Kimberly Josephson is Associate Professor of Business Administration at Lebanon Valley College and serves as an adjunct research fellow at the Center for Consumer Choice. She teaches courses on global sustainability, international marketing, and diversity in the workplace; Her research and opinion articles have appeared in many outlets.

She holds a PhD in Global Studies and Commerce and an MA in International Politics from La Trobe University, a MA in Political Science from Temple University, and a BA in Business Administration with a minor in Political Science from Bloomsburg University.

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