One of the most focused on areas in technology organization training is a an overwhelming focus on competency area skill development. The focus is almost always on specific skill development in particular methodologies, technologies, best practices and other areas of specialization. This is an exceptional practice that should be encouraged. However, I think it is important to ensure that you also spend time enhancing core executive and productivity skill sets. Time management, task management, communication skills, leadership, negotiation and other key skill sets don’t always the focus they should given that they too large degree dictate how impactful any of your other more specialized skill sets will be. When you think about the types of training your organization will need it may be helpful to ensure that the training in the following areas doesn’t get left behind.
1. Leadership – their is a growing focus within many executive oriented education programs to provide specific training in leadership. I think this sort of training should enable executives and senior leadership to understand specific aspects of leadership and focus on developing specific skills and understanding regarding working in teams, facilitating change, communication and interpersonal dynamics.
2. Communications – understanding how to present information visually, verbally and in the written word has perhaps never been more critical. The rise of knowledge based organizations, thinner management structures, requirements for more rapid response times and other factors are making the ability to effectively communicate and effect change critical.
3. Productivity – it is truly surprising how far pretty smart people can go in life without needing a defined approach to organizing their tasks and time. Developing better personal management skills can enable them to spend more time focused on solving problems, innovating or communicating and less time sidetracked, mis-allocating time or focused on the wrong tasking.
In short I think we often short change the skills we use most often. I think this is because we are so focused on domain expertise that we lose sight of the fact that without these other skills our expertise will never be as valuable, powerful or widely understood. Take the time to develop these skills yourself and to invest in developing them within your organization.
I’m sure the categories above aren;’t comprehensive What other general skills do you feel need to be a part of people’s ongoing professional development?
…but do you think agencies budget for this kind of training, Joshua? Or do they focus on the technical skills and requirements?
In Nevada we have access to some general training in these areas. Unfortunately, I think for the most part that public employees are on our own to develop in these areas. I am grateful to have worked in the private sector for 20+ years before moving in to the public sector. I received more than the average amount of training in those years which has benefitted me greatly in my career compared to those who have always been in public service.
What I have seen is an overwhelming focus on domain expertise. The fact is that certifications related to domain related expertise and ongoing education in this vein is simply easier to justify. Development of leadership, communication, or productivity skills is treated almost as an admission of a lack of basic skills rather than as a force multiplier for domain expertise.
As a Disabled Veterans Ouutreach Program Specialist (read DOL and State government). I have requested training in various electronic programs that we need and use on a daily basis. Nothing! I have resorted to buying the “Dummies” books as a government employee to organize and deliver services to our disabled and transitioning veterans.