When it comes to employee training programs, most organizations are focusing on teaching communication skills.
That’s the scoop from a recent American Management Association survey, which examined the training programs at more than 700 organizations. When asked to identify the training content provided to individual contributors at their companies, executives and managers taking the survey indicated the top three types of content are: communication (65%); skills and competencies specific to the individual’s role (60%); and leadership development (53%). Project management (49%) and interpersonal skills (48%) rounded out the top five responses.
Perhaps more interesting are the skill sets that didn’t make it to the survey results upper echelon. They include collaboration at 43%, decision making at 40%, and critical thinking at just 38%. Creativity and innovative thinking barely cracked 30%.
We’d never criticize any organization for the way it spends its training dollars. These decisions depend upon a number of complex and fluid factors. From a big-picture perspective, however, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that the skill sets appearing lower on the AMA’s list are the very same ones so many of us claim to need desperately, as they go right to the heart of our competitiveness, innovation, employee engagement and retention levels, and profitability.
The business press, professional blogs and conference keynotes have all been filled lately with calls for employers to drive collaboration, critical thinking and creativity deep into their organizations—not just nurture them among leaders and executives—and to hold everyone more accountable for utilizing these skills in their day-to-day work. Of course, that can’t happen if we’re not formally teaching them to our employees. (Rachel Burstein recently offered an interesting take on just how imperative critical thinking and creativity have become in her August opinion piece on SFGate.com, “Critical Thinking, creativity: the skills workers really need.”)
Again, it makes sense that we devote greater attention and dollars to teaching employees certain types of skill sets. After all, some skills are more universal and are in greater demand. But it seems fairly obvious that until we see some hefty spikes in the percentages next to skills such as collaboration, critical and innovative thinking and decision making, we’re not going to achieve the levels of productivity and profitability we so urgently desire.
Connect with the individuals and sources highlighted in this post by clicking the links below:
@AMAnet (American Management Association)