Highlighting that belief is a growing slate of leadership development training programs available at the Cartersville GHC campus designed with working professionals in mind. From academic studies as well as local input, program organizers have developed courses targeted at a subset of employees chronically under trained in what is known as soft skills, such as stress management, employee engagement, effective listening and instilling motivation, among others.
“One of the least trained people in the workplace is supervisors,” said instructor Tina Brush. “Supervisors often know what needs to be done, but can’t do it — and they are thirsty for direction and training.
“So often, we promote and hire based on what we can easily measure and quantify, but soft skills — people skills and leadership skills — are hard to measure.”
Brush relates a common situation in which tighter budgets and demanding schedules has lessened the emphasis on training to the point where many supervisors are being put in situations they are not equipped to handle. Georgia Highlands’ leadership offerings are designed to cover a range of topics and issues in an applicable manner so that students can put skills to use as soon as they return to work.
“People with technical skill perform on the floor and are placed in a supervisory role without additional training. Some people figure it out naturally, but others are just miserable,” Brush said. “These people are being asked to do more with less, they have lean staff, it’s a very competitive environment. People are still worried about the economy, there’s more job insecurity. They have to deal with all that insecurity and fewer resources. Then you have the issue of people of different generations. The plant of 30 years ago doesn’t exist anymore. There are supervisors managing people older than they are and that presents new difficulties.”
A progressive calendar of course offerings allows professionals at any stage of training to jump into leadership programs at any time. Classes occurring weekly, monthly and twice monthly are available with no programmed start date or regimented attendance policy as long as students complete the course within one year.
Courses begin with Just The Basics, a three-hour introduction class covering in depth one key topic for managers and supervisors every week. Just The Basics is offered at the Cartersville campus on Tuesdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
The other two leadership offerings are whole-day, 60-hour certificate programs. Lead To Succeed is offered the first and third Tuesday of each month while Taking Leadership To The Next Level is held the first Wednesday of each month. Both courses are made up of 10 modules.
Lead To Succeed offers students insight on how to better manage employees and how to relate to others through the development of specific skills while Taking Leadership To The Next Level is broader in scope and studies how to create a culture of success in the workplace.
Continuing Education Director George White partnered with Brush in the development of programs designed to create better managers and supervisors after hearing feedback from both students and the community. A council of business and civic leaders helps influence and guide the continuing education program by sharing obstacles and issues seen in the workplace.
“Three out of four people that come to our classes tell us, ‘I wish my boss was here.’ That’s a very common thing to hear,” White said. “We have an advisory council of citizens within our service area and the programs really came as feedback from members like Georgia Power and Komatsu telling us they needed this training.”
Wednesday, a group of students attended their first module for Taking Leadership To The Next Level. Representatives from an Atlanta-area electrical engineering firm, Georgia Power and Toyo Tire were involved in the class.
“It’s something that you have to learn,” said student and Georgia Power employee Ashlee Ward. “But, it’s not something you’re taught in school — how to manage your emotions or time management or how to deal with others in a work environment. These classes really put into perspective how to become a better leader and how to deal with people on a day-to-day basis.”
Georgia Highlands leadership development courses also can be tailor-made for a specific industry or organization and instructors will come on-site to train employees. Brush has taught similar courses specified to address the issues facing the transportation, flooring and heavy-equipment industries.
Registration for Just The Basics is $79 per class and both certificate-level programs are $179 per class. For more information, visit www.highlands.edu/site/continuing-education or call 678-872-8240.