“We must shift the role of a Centre Manager from just managing to leading. If you inspire people, then you are a true leader. Leadership skills are one of the main elements of a Centre Manager. It is to be able to influence by interacting with the team, learners, employers, and so on”, says Ms. Bijitha Joyce – Principal Lead – Ecosystem Strengthening, Alumni Relations, and Talent Development at Tata STRIVE.
To understand the importance of the role of a Centre Manager, what are the skills and qualities required in them, the need for upskilling and reskilling, and how can we bring the much-needed attention to the job role in the skilling ecosystem, we interacted with Ms. Bijitha Joyce – Principal Lead – Ecosystem Strengthening, Alumni Relations, and Talent Development at Tata STRIVE.
Read on to know more or you can also watch the video interview on our YouTube channel.
Q: Why is the role of a Centre Manager important for the skilling eco-system?
A: I have three critical points to share on this question.
First, the skill development value chain has a moving part as different people join, do their work, and move on. But we need someone to hold the thread end to end. She/he critically needs to ensure that they meet the commitments of the funders and the learners.
Second, at Tata STRIVE, we tell our Centre Managers that they are like the CEOs of their own centres. They broadly think of the sustenance of the centre.
Third, we must not restrict the Centre Manager to be just a Manager. I think a Centre Manager needs a shift from being a manager to a leader because, in a training centre, typically, 70% of the staff are trainers and they play an important role in ensuring that the students achieve their goals.
Trainees can be self-motivated to do their work as this phase needs a lot of passion as well. But, unfortunately, not everyone is the same. Possibly, they might have joined the course out of obligation. It’s a stop-gap arrangement.
So, a Centre Manager plays a very important role in nudging, inspiring and ensuring them that we are not only achieving the learner goals but also preparing for the next. Right now, things are so dynamic, so how does one prepare themselves for it? Most importantly, we need to shift the role of the Centre Manager from just ‘managing’ to ‘leading’. That is very critical of the role to take the training centre forward.
Q: What are the main qualities and attributes of a person, who could take up the challenging role of a Centre Manager?
A: I think leadership skill is definitely very critical and there are so many definitions to it. If you inspire people, then you are a true leader. Leadership skills are one of the main elements of a leader. Leadership is also about how we influence while interacting with the team, learners, employers, and so on.
Besides leadership and the ability to influence, other qualities and attributes include:
Thinking like an entrepreneur – If a Centre Manager is asked to run a centre, he/she cannot depend on someone else. They must take things forward despite the challenges, as an entrepreneur.
Skills to understand data – A Centre Manager must talk with an evidence-based approach. It is very critical for the Centre Manager to have a solution mindset. The Centre Manager recommends solutions not just to the problems but also supports the team.
Q: How can we build the capacities of a Centre Manager?
A: When a Centre Manager joins in, it is important for him/her to stay aligned to the vision of the organization. There is a lot of sensitivity that needs to be built regarding the nuances and dynamics. At Tata STRIVE, we run a 5-day programme for Centre Managers, to help them reach their goal better. It covers the elements of leadership, influencing, to think like an entrepreneur among others. We also talk about stakeholder delight by not only presenting the excel sheets but by gathering the insights.
We even promote a culture of coaching within the STRIVE and as a Centre Manager, we encourage them to turn as a leader, have a free-flow conversation by one-on-one practice.
Apart from this, we also conducted a series called ‘Ghajinigiri’. Even though the SOPs are like the Bible for us to do things, in the thick of work, we tend to forget or skip few tasks. So, going back to the concept of the Bollywood movie, Ghajini, we brought this series on why should a Centre Manager do the counseling in a particular way. This series has brought everyone together and empowered them.
Related article: Trainers – The real influencers of change – https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/trainers-the-real-influencers-of-change/
Q: What would be your key message to the Training Partners who want to hire, upskill or reskill Centre Managers?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the door for digitization as people are able to learn through online platforms. One must also deeply invest in self-learning. There are many online courses which the Training Partners can offer to their Centre Managers. The mentoring programme, peer to peer programme can be helpful to them. I urge the Training Partners to look at ways on how they can be engaged. They are like a pipeline for the next level of leadership. When the options like build/buy occur, the building is the better option and people look at different projects. It can happen only when you invest in it.
Q: How can we bring more awareness about the key role of Centre Managers among influencers, funders, and so on in the skilling ecosystem?
A: From a broader perspective, funders try to impact more students through training programmes. Funders must also look at building the capabilities of a Centre Manager along with the Training Partner. Funders can collaborate to mentor the Centre Managers and share their expertise in strengthening this role. At the level of policymaking, while there is a focus on the Training of Trainers (ToT), we must also bring the focus on the Centre Managers. It can be a great boost to the skilling ecosystem.
Apart from all of these, each one of the Centre Manager should be accountable for their own learning. If we don’t take the change by hand, the change will take us by throat.