It’s February: in Scotland, we’re replete with haggis and battered by Jigsaw puzzleStorm Henry, but we’re also battling with budgets for the next financial year. Can I ask you to pause for a second and ask yourself how much you’re planning to spend on upskilling your people? Is the training budget the first thing to go when funds are tight? It could also be the missing piece in your plan for success.

When you consider how much many businesses spend on employing people, it still comes as a shock to find out how little many invest in developing their skills. Research and experience bear out the fact that the most successful organisations are those where every member of staff knows what’s expected of her or him and is competent and confident to deliver.

Lost customers, expensive rework and wasted resources will cost you dear. So it could be worth a lot to your organisation to know where the skills gaps are and to plan the most economical way to fill them.  As a bonus, you could find out that the people working with you have hitherto hidden talents or potential that could enhance your business now or in the future.

How to go about it? You can use what you already know – brush off last year’s Performance Reviews, if you have them, and consider any skills development questions that haven’t been addressed yet.  More importantly, managers should make the time to sit down with every employee, and ask The Question. It’s a very simple one:

“What would help you to do your job better?”

But the real trick, and the one that will make the difference, is to really listen to the answer.

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