Communication skills are the most common element in efforts to develop individual contributors, according to a survey of executives and managers from more nearly 700 organizations by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association.
Two-thirds of organizations with programs for individual contributors include communication skills. Next in frequency among 14 kinds of content are skills specific to an individual’s role.
If your organization makes an effort to develop individual contributors, which of the following kinds of content are included in such programs?
Communication skills 66%
Skills/competences specific to individual’s role 60%
Leadership development 52%
Project management 49%
Interpersonal skills 48%
Decision making 40%
Critical thinking 38%
Cultural sensitivity/diversity 32%
Creativity/innovative thinking 32%
Business/financial acumen 30%
Emotional intelligence 25%
Global perspective 14%
“It appears that many companies are stepping up training and development for individuals, employees who aren’t necessarily considered high potentials or the equivalent, but who are essential to meeting business objectives,” said Jennifer Jones, Director at AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored training solutions. “These are the key people who get things done but may not be part of a team or have any direct management authority. They were sometimes overlooked in recent years, but that may be changing.”
Communication skills tops the list of what are provided to individual contributors, said Jones. “Being able to frame ideas and share them with colleagues in both writing and speaking is so fundamental that these are most often a starting point in professional growth and development.”
As fundamental as such skills are, Jones said, it would be a mistake to see communications as a simple, one-dimensional ability. “Communication is actually an umbrella term for such core skills as listening, thinking clearly, interpreting organizational concepts, being alert to non-verbal signals as well as dealing with any stress or emotional issues in working with co-workers or supervisors. Indeed, understood correctly communications helps a person understand a situation, resolve differences and build trust. It’s essential for a productive workplace to encourage creativity and collaboration in order to solve problems or achieve business objectives.”
The survey findings, noted Jones, reveal that a wide range of content is being provided to individual contributors. “They span technical competencies, leadership, critical thinking, project management and interpersonal skills.”
Jones believes that meeting the needs of individual contributors is now vital for companies that seek to avoid a perception of elitism and instead aim to build an environment of collaboration and team work.
The survey was conducted from November 16, 2013, to January 22, 2014, and respondents consisted of 721 senior-level business, human resources, and management professionals and employee contacts drawn from AMA's database of contacts.
With more than 90 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government training solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance, and optimal business results.
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