Research shows that the most successful companies in the world train and develop their whole workforce, not only their top managers.  Employers who invest in training their employees gain their engagement, improve their performance, and increase the company’s bottom line.  It is not magic but it won’t happen by osmosis either.

Invista Performance Solutions would like to thank ResumePrime for sharing this infographic with us.  It neatly details the essential skills employees need to thrive in most of today’s organizations.

High performing businesses take intentional steps to define what competencies and skills are most valuable in their own organizations, and then establish a variety of learning and development methods to increase their employees’ skills.  Organizations budget for what they truly value and poorly performing businesses typically don’t budget for employee development.  Naïve managers have a fantastical belief that people will just develop skills on their own, or that the company has no responsibility in the matter.  They train for the job-specific skills, but employees are on their own for the rest, especially soft skills.  They argue, people are adults, so shouldn’t they just act professionally?  They should but they don’t!

We won’t spend time debunking these problematic and untrue beliefs about the workforce.  It’s sufficient to just look at the data.  Companies surveyed everywhere describe a common gap in employee soft skills (http://theconversation.com/lack-of-workers-with-soft-skills-demands-a-shift-in-teaching-73433).  There is no reasonable expectation that all employees will have developed the same adequate abilities to communicate effectively, work together, critically analyze and solve problems, or make good decisions by the time they enter the workforce and join our organizations.

Here are some steps your organization or department can take if you are serious about developing the skills of your employees:

1. Do A Simple Gap Analysis By Assessing Performance Desired VS. Performance As-Is

What is in the gap?  If poorly developed skills are a key factor in the areas of weak performance, then you know where effort is needed.  And even if your organization has no apparent poor performance, but just wishes to move from good to great, skills development is one way to get there.  This analysis can be done by surveys, or observations, and a look at KPIs.

2. Prioritize The Skills That Have The Largest Impact On The Business Output

We do not have unlimited time or money when it comes to employee development.  The Pareto Principle suggests that by improving just a few key factors, you could impact your organization in a major way.  If you are not sure how to determine the relationships between causes and impacts, IPS recommends the use of workforce consultant to support the process.

3. Employ Programming To Train In The Workforce Skills You Have Identified

 Formal training programs can include customized courses taught on-site, or through blended learning models using technology.  We highly recommend avoiding the daily seminar offers, easily identified by the regular flyers in the mail, or the daily e-marketing spam.  Those programs cannot address the specific skills your employees need, and they have no follow up to ensure retention.  Find a local provider who will understand your business, analyze your needs, build a program that suits your culture, and come back to help it stick.

4. Invest In Your Supervisors And Managers First

We cannot underestimate the role of solid leadership in modeling the effective use of skills.  Coaching by supervisors—whether individually or in groups—is a key developmental process.  It gives employees feedback about their actual work right in the moments when it is most needed and most effective.