To successfully recruit, hire, train, retain and build the capacity of Opportunity Youth, organizations need a strong corps of frontline managers who have unique skills to successfully supervise, support and develop these young adults. We call these managers “Opportunity Managers”.
Opportunity Managers build strong working relationships with their team members. They are kind and empathetic, set clear (and high) expectations, and create an inclusive culture with high levels of support. These leaders are also strong at the day-to-day tactics of people management including coaching, giving and receiving positive and constructive feedback, communicating effectively with their team, and creating an environment where entry-level employees can grow over time. Given the skills that Opportunity Managers possess, it is no surprise that these managers frequently have a profound impact on the lives and the careers of the young adults that they supervise.
Becoming an “Opportunity Manager”
At Grads of Life, we believe that strong managers are “made”, not “born”. Skills such as relationship-building and effective communication are skills that can be learned. We have developed the Opportunity Manager Training (OMT). The OMT is an engaging, relevant, and actionable online training to help frontline managers learn to effectively supervise and support their team. The training is 100% online, self-paced, and contains actionable modules that frontline managers can begin using immediately.
One such module highlights the impact that a frontline manager had on one of her team members.
The Return on Investment
Kelly’s experience is a powerful example of how skilled managers can help their team. Research shows that when frontline team members – especially Opportunity Youth – feel supported, the business thrives. In 2007, The GAP created the This Way Ahead Initiative to recruit and train Opportunity Youth to work in its stores. The initiative has expanded over time because participants stayed with GAP twice as long as their peers and have higher employee engagement scores. Given the high cost of turnover and low employee engagement scores, it makes business sense to engage with new ways to improve on retention and engagement metrics.
Having frontline managers who effectively manage diverse teams also benefits the managers themselves. McKinsey surveyed frontline managers and found that over 80% of them are unhappy with their performance. The study found that the majority of managers surveyed are not engaged in “high value” practices such as coaching their team members, a practice that ultimately improves the performance of the organization. As managers become more effective in their work, and as their team members become more productive, these managers will likely enjoy their work more. This pattern can lead to a virtuous cycle.
When strong managers support their team, their team members have greater workplace engagement and higher performance rates. When team members perform better, not only does your business grow but you now have a pipeline of committed, high-performing individuals who can grow your business and grow with your business. It’s a win-win-win.
Learn more about our Opportunity Manager Training, and how Grads of Life can help your organization grow your frontline talent.
Philip is an educator at heart. He is committed to serving young people who have not traditionally been served well. He has led schools in Philadelphia, PA and Providence, RI and has worked with young people as a teacher and outdoor educator in Providence RI, New York City, Florida and South Africa.
Philip holds an MBA from American University, and MA from Columbia University Teachers College and a BA from Brown University. He lives in Philadelphia with his family.