Globalization of economies is well under way. International travel is routine. People are getting accustomed to distant cultures. And of course, global commerce and competition are greater than ever.

As the world is shrinking to “tiny”, most companies recognize that training is a vital part of staying competitive in this dynamic marketplace.  The question is: How can businesses get most out of the funds set aside for training?

This is Part I, addressing the first of the three critical questions below:

1. What are training priorities for achieving success in any economic environment?

2. Which functional groups need this training the most for greatest impact?

3. How do you monitor and measure the training effectiveness?

Consider applying Steven Covey’s the Urgent/Important Matrix (modified here) to set training priorities for optimized workforce and staying competitive:

Setting Training Priorities

  •  “Glaring Need” – Training to address “Important and Urgent” is your top priority

 “You are generating a large number of qualified leads. Your people have completed sales training. Yet, your people are not able to Close! Your sale/bid ratio (conversion rate) is below that of the leaders in the industry. If this continues, your market share will decline.”

So, how do you identify the kind of training your people need?

“The ability of a company to differentiate between whether the sales organization has a selling problem or a negotiating problem can mean the difference between delivering the expected performance or not” says Mike Milich, Executive Coach at SwiftNegotia.

  • “Necessary Evil” – Training focused at addressing “Urgent but not Important” tasks

Training to perform certain administrative functions more efficiently may become urgent (for example, to meet tax filing deadline), but are not critical to survival and growth of the business.

  • “Strategically Critical” – Training focused at achieving your goals, short and long-term

Begin with recognizing the skills the most effective employees use now, as well as by projecting new skills that will be important because of the dynamics of the marketplace.

Caution: It is easy to confuse functional/technical expertise with capabilities as a business person.  Many smart professionals are trained to explain why something will not work. There is tendency for these people to extend the same mindset to business deals – always highlighting reasons why some deal cannot be made.

For example, to effectively deal with people from different parts of the world, the one ingredient that needs to be added to the mix is “negotiation skills.”

Negotiation skills are about learning to look at something and create an opportunity and not a reason to say No!” – Mike Milich

  • “Worry not” – Training for activities that are neither urgent nor important, is just waste of money. There are activities for which others may want you to provide training, but if such activities are not important and do not contribute to company goals, either ignore them or say “No” politely, if you can.

In Part II and Part III, we will address question 2 and question 3, respectively.