Before I was ever a business writer, I was a retail manager. In the course of rising through the retail ranks, I learned a whole bunch about the value of good training. Early in my former career, a senior manager gave me a great piece of advice:
“A successful manager gets the most done while doing the least himself.”
In a nutshell, what the senior manager was trying to tell me was that, the more I made sure my employees were trained, the less I actually had to do.
From then on, my focus was on training and empowering my team – to such an extent that eventually, I came to do almost nothing at all. Well, other than delegation.
I could never have achieved such a life of leisure had I not learned to train – or rather, delegate the training of – each and every employee in the location.
You see, I trained my immediate subordinates to train others. Leadership was always about, you guessed it, training!
Boom, told ya!
Skillsoft, a business e-learning firm, recently published the results of an extensive study of the value placed on learning certain skills in business.
The results of the study are surprising. The independent study showed that strong leadership skills mattered to only 26-percent of respondents. What is vastly more important, according to the Skillsoft survey, are qualifications. That means training.
This information should come as no surprise due to the rough economic climate of the past few years. Many employees, including managers, have been placed out of work, or have worked in on-and-off patterns as everyone has tried to weather the global economic crisis. As such, experience has inherently had to take a backseat to training and qualifications.
The study also found the leaning toward qualifications over experience to continue to increase exponential within peer groups at larger businesses. In fact, organisations with over 750 employees were found to place a seven-percent higher priority on qualifications.
Relatively low priority was given to leadership and communication skills by the survey (26- and 18-percent, respectively). Conversely, the majority of CEOs interviewed said that “personal issues” were the number one factor leading to employee turnover.
So what can we make of these numbers?
We can infer that better trained employees might excel at leadership and communication. And then we might assume that those skills will lead to a more cohesive workplace and greater employee retention.
So we then arrive back at that thing I learned from that senior manager: training counts in large amounts.
Thankfully, the research shows that nearly all (93-percent) of business leaders are aware of the need to invest in training. In fact, almost one third of the businesses surveyed said that they planned to increase training budgets over the coming years.
The Skillsoft study also showed that internet-based learning is starting to become the leading way in which companies provide training. In fact, over 60-percent of responding CEOs claimed that their companies have in-place mobile learning strategies.
Technical skills are essential to a job, be it IT-related or elsewhere. But simply knowing how to perform a techie function is no longer the endgame for personal development in the modern world of business. The most effective people are the ones practicing sound management and excellent communication bolstered not only by experience, but by training as well.
We all put the skills down on our resumes:
The truth is, those skills are learned, and training is often the only way to get the information to the employee. So the lesson here is that training is really the name of the game for corporations and SMEs. The more we embrace and effectively train around “soft” skills in addition to tangible technical qualifications, the more effective and efficient our businesses become.
Besides, who does not want to do the most by doing the least? You just have to learn how.