Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Targeting Training for Strategic Success


Training is a key weapon to manage change in the battle for increased competiveness in a rapidly evolving environment.

This article offers important tools to optimise training investment by accurately determining the organisation’s competency needs. 

Competency as key to competitiveness

The business of implementing efficient and effective supply chains is transforming at light speed. This presents new opportunities for greater cost reductions and market growth.

Training is an essential but expensive tool in building and maintaining competitiveness.

To make this investment effective we must be able to target training for maximum impact.

The first step is to accurately determine the organisation’s competency needs, where competency is defined as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitude.

How to do this without the need for sophisticated software or specialised knowledge?

This particular elephant is best tackled in meal sized chunks:

Business strategy

Consider these trends:

More than ever before, consumer is king and the pace of change in consumer demands is accelerating. The agility to adapt to these radical and rapid changes is what makes a winning organisation.

The ability to identify and embrace new technologies which will strengthen the organisation’s ability to determine changing market needs and adapt to them is a vital competitive weapon.

One world  
Whilst “multinational” denoted a corporation with turnover in the billions and workforce in the hundreds of thousands, this is no longer so: the tools are there for even the smallest to diversify into global markets and this versatility is crucial to all.

Today’s business strategies focus on how to meet rapidly changing consumer needs by harnessing best in class technology for enhanced competiveness over an expanding global footprint.

It is essential that such a strategy also defines the competencies required to achieve the objectives. It should answer the question “Which are the competencies which, if we don’t have them, will prevent us from achieving our strategic objectives?”

Skills profiles

The strategy describes the future state of the company- by analysing the current skills profile of each function within the company we determine:

  • How the current functions need to be adapted to achieve the strategic objectives
  • To what extent the identified competencies are applied in the current functions, and at what level. For example, the competencies, Distribution, Warehousing and Logistics are practiced at many different levels
  • Which of the identified competencies will need to be acquired/ enhanced in the adapted structure.

Whilst there is no rocket technology in carrying out this exploration, it will take time and the commitment of Line Managers. Best to see that they are compensated/ recognised.

Individual Assessment

A critical step in the process is to determine the extent to which each individual within the organisation possesses the required competencies to:

  • Carry out their current function
  • Function successfully in the future organisation.

To determine these gaps requires that those within the organisation (and possibly outsiders) who already have these competencies to write assessments which determine the knowledge and skills areas required by each function.

This may be unfamiliar territory but it has been done in many organisations.

The results of these assessments will identify the company’s unique skills gaps and give clear direction as to where training resources need to be allocated.

The bottom line benefits

  • Ensures learning is directly aligned to organisational strategy
  • Directs resources to areas of greatest demand effectively and efficiently
  • Identifies the "gap" between required and current performance
  • Enables the organisation to tailor training to meet current and future requirements
  • Provides a platform to enable an organisation’s sustainable competitive advantage based on employees’ ability to learn and adapt to change.

Would this strategy work in your company?

How could you adapt it to better serve your needs?

Is this an area which receives enough attention?

Are there better ways of determining the competency needs of an organisation?

Please share your thoughts.