Communication and leadership skills top the list of crucial training offerings.
By Mark Scullard, director of research, and Jeffrey Sugerman, president and CEO, Inscape Publishing
By this time of year, many of us have made (and maybe broken) New Year’s resolutions to improve in areas crucial to our personal success: losing weight, working out, volunteering, reading more books, or drinking less coffee (our own resolution). But what if we made resolutions in the workplace? We asked 3,651 recent training participants which three training offerings are most crucial to the success of their organizations, their teams, and their professional development.
When asked what training offerings would be most crucial to the success of their organizations,communication skills,leadership skills,and innovative thinking skillswere the top choices. These perennial favorites are hardly a surprise; they’re skills most people can benefit from regardless of their title or role. Indeed, the fact that people see them as crucial to the success of their organizations implies that more work needs to be done at all levels.
Many respondents also felt their organizations would benefit from training courses on working more effectively on a teamand critical thinking skills.Negotiation skillswere seen as leastcrucial to the success of organizations—perhaps because the general training participant doesn’t need to negotiate on a regular basis.
The responses regarding which skills are most crucial to team successalso held few surprises. Communication skillswere seen as most important, with 34 percent of participants selecting it. In at No. 2, with 32 percent, was working more effectively on a team.Rounding out the top three was time management,with 26 percent. To work on a team effectively, members need to communicate, work to their own strengths, and understand the strengths of their teammates, and since people depend on each other to contribute, everyone needs to manage their time well. Tied for fourth place were leadership skills, innovative thinking skills,and technical know-how related to our jobs.
Personal Professional Development
Interestingly, when asked what training courses would be most crucial to their own professional development,the skills were identical to what would be most beneficial to the organization’s success: leadership,in first place with 36 percent; communication skillsand innovative thinking skills,tied for second with 26 percent each; and time management,in fourth place with 22 percent.
Remember how 32 percent of respondents said that classes on working more effectively on a team would be crucial to their teams’ success? Surprisingly, only 10 percent said that it would be beneficial to their professional development. This suggests that many people feel that othersneed development in this area more than they do personally. It may be difficult for individuals to gauge how well they perform as part of a team.
Large vs. Small Organizations
In our survey, we also looked at the differences between large and small organizations when it comes to what skills are seen as crucial to success. The top three were identical: communication skills,leadership skills,and innovative thinking skills.However, respondents from small organizations felt that time managementis also crucial to their success. It may be that employees in small organizations are asked to wear a lot of hats and need excellent time management skills to get it all done. In addition, respondents from small organizations were slightly more likely to endorse the need for computer skillsand sales skills.
So what can we learn from all of this? For most people, communication, leadership,and innovative thinking skillsare ongoing opportunities for growth—whether for their organizations, their teams, or themselves. Like the common New Year’s resolutions in our personal lives, these workplace skills don’t go out of style. Simply put, they are critical to long-term effectiveness and satisfaction. If your resolution is to get the most out of your training calendar in 2011, you should feel confident that these core skills are as relevant as ever.
Mark Scullard is the director of research at Inscape Publishing, a provider of training materials for the corporate market. He has more than a decade of research and data analysis experience in the development of psychological evaluation tools and methods. Scullard received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota, with a supporting program in statistics.
Jeffrey Sugerman is the president and CEO of Inscape Publishing. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior management, marketing, and business development in the technology, training, and publishing industries. Sugerman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern University.
Scullard and Sugerman are the co-authors of the forthcoming Berrett-Koehler title, “The 8 Dimensions of Leadership: DiSC Strategies for Becoming a Better Leader.”