Volatile, Outrageous, and Unprecedented are words that describe 2020—at least from what the world has witnessed so far. And for the folks from the United States, the sense of fear and isolation brought by the pandemic is compounded with civil unrest, change in the political climate, and the increasing rate of unemployment. In a time where the lines between work and personal life continue to blur, and uncertainty fills the air, one question rises on the minds of every person who’s still employed—what’s next? Waking up to headlines that scream demotivation, workers of all classes, across industry verticals, ache for a one ray of hope that can lead them to a clear path. What they need is a great leader.

At times of crisis, leaders—at all levels—of companies are uniquely positioned to motivate their respective teams, support and reassure them that things will get better with time. And in the current scenario, companies not only need their current leaders to bring in their “A game” but also to pave the way for more employees to develop leadership skills and tie every loose end, leaving no one behind. However, this is easier said than done. Why?

On the one side, most professionals that manage teams are ill-equipped and are certainly unprepared to deal with the new normal, as they were never practically trained to lead teams. This happens when companies disregard the fact that it takes proper coaching, practice, and self-awareness, discovery, and reflection to become effective leaders. On the other hand, creating leaders requires companies to invest time and resources to identify proper candidates and give them the training and time required to develop leadership skills and master it.

Founded to help such companies build and develop strong leadership is BetterManager. As a leadership development solution provider, the company strives to help managers make a positive difference in the lives of the people they work with by delivering rapid and cost-effective results. They do this through a unique and tested combination of executive leadership coaching, training, and technology.

“BetterManager is perfectly positioned to help organization create and develop leaders with the capability to manage their team effectively, ensure high performance, rapidly solve problems under high-stress and chaotic conditions, gain the trust of employees, peers, and customers, and subsequently, leave a positive impact on the organization’s bottom line,” says Stephane Panier, Founder & CEO, BetterManager.

In an interview with ManageHR magazine, Panier shares his thoughts on the market pain points and how BetterManager addresses it effectively.

In your interactions with clients, what sense do you get about the challenges they face with regard to leadership and leadership development?

Today, the main challenge people face is uncertainty. They don’t know if their company is going to be around in a month or if they’re going to be able to support their families. There are people who ponder who their next president will be and how it’s going to impact their lives. There are others who fear contracting COVID-19. All this, while feelings of social injustice, and diversity and inclusion issues are surging. People need to feel reassured during these times, and they need a way to be resilient. Employees working remotely are feeling stressed and isolated. They are facing pressure from their professional and personal lives. They need an anchor— of sorts—to give them the much-required stability. They need a person to talk to, share their experience and feelings— someone who can tell them that it’s all going to work out in the end. That person needs to be able to not only listen to them but coach them through it. This is an unspoken extension of a manager’s role. People managers are the link between their teams and the rest of the organizations, and the current environment calls for them to step up and lead. In fact, the need for leaders and leadership development, on a global scale, has never been so high. They are in a great position to provide support and the reassurance to their teams and tie them up to the rest of the organization.

We offer a unique integrated leadership development platform that turns managers into leaders by driving awareness, learning and mastery

But, you need to know how to do that. You need to know how to listen. You need to know how to ask the right questions without being “creepy.” You’d need to know how to blend interest, curiosity, support, empathy, and compassion. Those are the tools that managers need today. While there are some that have these emotions innate, there are many more who talk about it but are too self-involved to actually do what’s right. That’s where leadership development can really help.

How does BetterManager address these challenges and help companies build and develop their leadership?

We offer a unique, integrated leadership development platform that turns managers into leaders by driving awareness, learning, and mastery. Our platform focuses on the four stages of learning:

1. Unconscious Incompetence (when you’re doing something wrong without knowing that it’s wrong)

2. Conscious Incompetence (when you do something wrong knowing it is wrong)

3. Conscious Competence (when you are doing something right but you have to focus on doing it the right way consciously)

4. Unconscious Competence (when you are doing something right without even having to think about it).

Our engagements begin by helping managers get past the first stage— helping them discover what they don’t know. On becoming aware of where they are going wrong, they enter the Conscious Incompetence stage. This stage would be more on developing yourself and understanding how you are actually perceived by your peers and teammates versus how you think you are perceived. We do this with a 360-degree survey that is based on Google’s research on the “best behaviors” of successful managers. Then, we debrief the results from the survey to the participant and set goals based on the same for them. And then, as they move on to the third stage, we coach them on best practices—helping them understand aspects of being a good manager, how to communicate, how to have one-on-ones, how to receive and give feedback, etc. It combines online and mobile apps, live virtual training and individualized coaching, and data intelligence and progress tracking. When you put all those pieces together it is very powerful. Once they have these skills, we help them master it, entering the last stage. What gives us an edge in the current market is that we offer all our solutions remotely—which is extremely beneficial during this pandemic situation.

Learning as an adult, mastering new skills, and developing new behaviours takes time. Breaking learning into virtual micro classes, instead of spending three full days in a live classroom, provides a process for learning concepts and practice on the job. That kind of learning changes behavior. Each individual’s progress is tracked by our app and reported to the companies Human Resource Department via easy-to-use dashboards. We want companies to see the progress and also learn about the areas where they need to improve from a professional development perspective. For example, back in 2016, we worked on an online survey company building a leadership development program for new directors. They took care of both the syllabus as well as the learning. However, to put theory into practice, they wanted to add coaching to their program—which is exactly what our offerings helped accomplish. Satisfied with the kind of impact we impart, this company chose to work with us ever since.

What does the future look like for BetterManager?

We are building a great deal of technology to support our programs, and developing programs that combine experiential training, visual re-training sessions, and coaching. In some cases, your coaching might not be scalable— say, if they are large or have a large team of juniors. In such cases, you may not find classroom training or visual training to be sufficient. So, we offer a combination of both, which allows for the personalization of the training and promotes deeper learning.

We are expanding internationally with teams in Europe and Asia, supporting over ten languages and 24 time zones.