There is currently hardly a statement from company representatives that does not contain a complaint about the lack of skilled workers and managers. While politicians are endeavouring to make Germany more attractive to qualified people from all over the world, the consequences of the shortage are becoming increasingly noticeable. For experts and business representatives, it has long been one of the biggest obstacles to growth in our country. “Lamenting doesn’t help, we have to take matters into our own hands”, is the credo of enomyc author Wolfram W. Hackbarth. No sooner said than done. He has developed a training programme for his SME customers that prepares career changers for their tasks as specialists and managers in a short space of time.

According to calculations by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), there are currently around 1.73 million vacancies in Germany that cannot be filled – across all sectors. Many small and medium-sized companies in particular are trying to compensate for the shortage of staff with career changers. The problem is that many of these employees are barely or insufficiently qualified for their job.

In this situation, our “Step up training” offers a pragmatic solution. In five condensed days of training, participants learn the most important tools for their day-to-day work. Part of the training, which is conducted in small teams of around four people, is also a final, standardised initial assessment of the participants in their role as specialists and managers.

The “Crash course for career changers” covers seven fundamental areas of employee management in an industrial environment. This includes basic technical and organisational knowledge from industry and staff management as well as the application of standard tools in day-to-day operations. The course focuses on the following topics:

  • “How do I evaluate my employees and team members using a multi-moment study?”
  • “How do I manage on site in production with key figures and standards?”
  • “How can I sustainably reduce absence rates and empower employees to actively solve problems?” or also
  • “How do I motivate people to implement more complex optimisation projects in day-to-day operations in production and production logistics?”

Other modules deal with the topics of leadership behaviour, employee appraisal interviews and the evaluation of team members in their day-to-day responsibilities. Participants also learn techniques and procedures for crisis situations and critique meetings. Finally, a structured qualitative and quantitative assessment of team members and superiors takes place aimed at identifying individual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks and creating personnel profile analyses for the initial assessment of managers. In addition, the coach provides important information on practical development projects that help to compensate for and improve deficits and weaknesses in the employee’s areas of expertise.

Tips and tools for day-to-day specialist and management work

We have already carried out step-up training for various customers from a wide range of industries, including many medium-sized manufacturing companies, as well as service and maintenance organisations in the renewable energy sector (wind, solar and hydrogen, both onshore and offshore).

The target groups of the training are specialists and managers who come from other companies and need to be quickly integrated into their own organisation, but also internal key players and experts with a lot of experience in their own company who require an internal lateral move. The training is also a great help when relocating production facilities or manufacturing processes abroad, when it comes to qualifying those affected for their new tasks.

The participants are usually highly motivated and very open-minded, attentive and grateful to learn the important new management tools quickly and to benefit from the many years of industry experience of a coach. Often it is also career changers from maintenance/maintenance and logistics who learn the basics of production management or service control through this “crash course”.

In the basic knowledge module, participants first learn the 20 most important terms from the world of lean production and find out what is behind buzzwords such as customer cycle, TPM, Kaizen, PDCA, 5S or OEE. Not only are the terms and underlying concepts and tools taught, but also their application in everyday operations. All terms are internalised in detail using practical examples provided by the participants.

The module on standard tools in the second part is also strongly orientated towards practical requirements. After brief instruction from the coach, the participants create the individual value stream for their area of responsibility in performance management. This enables them to acquire new skills by passing on tools to their employees or explaining complex problems quickly and simply with the help of special process symbolism and compact visualisation. This makes it clear quickly and comprehensibly for everyone where there is a need for action and where bottlenecks or losses (waste) occur in the organisational and technical processes.

Basic management knowledge such as the question of how goals can be defined and operationalised with the help of suitable measures are not only part of the curriculum “en passant”, but are also taught in the form of the standardised problem-solving process according to the PDCA scheme (Plan, Do, Check, Act). The use of status sheets helps future specialists and managers to make the qualitative and quantitative implementation status of their projects transparent and to allocate capacities and costs incurred to the individual tasks. They can also be used to communicate the necessary measures to employees and thus integrate them closely into the implementation process. A personnel management matrix also makes it easier to identify top performers in the team.

Self-management and team leadership

How do I develop myself as a manager? How can I coach others and contribute to everyone’s continuous development? This is what the part of the step-up training that deals with lean leadership is all about. The discussion about leadership by example, exemplary behaviour, respect, recognition and understanding of basic principles, standards and goals are given a lot of space, because we believe they are essential for a responsible and performance-oriented understanding of leadership.

In the fourth module, participants learn about guidelines and checklists for conducting discussions with employees who return to the company after an absence due to illness or other reasons. Part five is about evaluating employees as objectively as possible, while part six deals with managing teams in crisis situations and communication success factors.

The management crash course concludes with a structured assessment of team leaders and line managers: Who is suitable as a manager? Who has communication weaknesses? Where is there a lack of focus on the future or results? In many customer projects, the analysis led, among other things, to the area of a team leader having to be reorganised under new management, while the areas of responsibility of three other team leaders were expanded.

A test shows whether the participants have understood the key content and can “translate” it into their everyday work. To do this, participants send their answers to twelve questions on the individual topics back to the instructor by email for assessment.

Pragmatic, practical, good: how employees and companies rate the training

This training course provides participants with the basic knowledge they need to fulfil their tasks in a condensed form and across all sectors. The training days are challenging, but the varied formats and interactive sessions make them manageable according to the participants.

The benefits of training are also obvious for company management. As various customers have confirmed to us, a well-founded initial assessment of managers is of outstanding importance, especially against the background of constantly increasing pressure in terms of productivity and improvement. Especially in the restructuring and reorganisation environment, managers are the key to success. The training is strongly geared towards the requirements of day-to-day operations and therefore creates tangible added value in a short space of time – whether through better problem solving, a lower sickness rate or performance-orientated and always appreciative leadership.

There is no question that specialist and management training programmes such as the one described above are not “the” panacea for the increasingly noticeable shortage of qualified employees that has been looming for years. But for many medium-sized companies, especially in the current situation, it can make a decisive contribution to stabilising and sustainably developing the most important management tasks and organisation in the short term. Another advantage is that every company can organise the training whenever it is necessary. The wait for appropriate measures from authorities, associations or politicians has thus come to an end, at least at this point.

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