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7 Core Skills for Employee Development Plans in 2020

Posted on December 5, 2019 at 5:35 PM


You get the mass email from HR and feel a familiar dread - "Has it already been a year? Performance management time again?" At a minimum, you probably have to write your self-appraisal and goals for the next year. If you have people reporting to you, you have to write appraisals and goals for them as well. That means more work for you, without any more time to do it. Ouch!


The good news is that there can be a payoff to that investment, particularly in the goal setting for the next year. In addition to performance goals, you should also add goals to improve key skills required for the job and career track. As automation continues to change the workplace, training will be an essential way for people to stay competitive in the workforce. Here are seven core skills trainings that should be included in employee development plans in 2020.


1 - Problem-Solving - Work that is predictable and programable can be done by a machine. Work that includes problems that cannot be solved by machines requires humans. Problem-solving is a core skill that people need to master. Problem-solving means diagnosing a problem and identifying and assessing potential solutions. A great method to solve problems comes from an old source - the centuries-old hypothesis testing process many of us learned in high school science class. Elite consulting firms train their new hires to use this scientific method to solve business problems. 


2 - Communication - Figuring out solutions to problems is critical, but if you cannot communicate those solutions to others, you will not be effective. Elite consulting firms train their professionals in a standard structure to communicate complex ideas in an effective and efficient way. This method can help you communicate your ideas clearly and concisely, which will improve your chances of success. 


3 - Teamwork - People get trained before working with complex technology. Humans are more complex than any technology, and working effectively in teams requires training too. It takes work to set team goals and coordinate individual roles and responsibilities around those team goals. Done poorly, teamwork can drive stress, poor results, and inefficiency. Done well, teamwork can be a fantastic force multiplier. 


4 - Decision-Making - Identifying problems and possible solutions are great, but if you cannot decide between the options, you will be stuck. Decision-making is a skill that can be improved by learning and applying a proven process. Some decisions need a lot of input and time, while others just need to get made quickly. 


5 - Conflict Resolution - People at work compete for finite resources like time and money. People have different opinions on which strategies are the best. Conflict in the workplace is a natural outcome of activity. In fact, if you don't see conflict at your work you may need to worry that there is not enough activity or engagement. It takes skills to ensure conflict is a healthy dynamic instead of a destructive force at work. 


6 - Leadership - If you master the above five skills, chances are you will succeed as an individual performer and be considered for advancement to leadership roles. If you are already leading teams, you always have an opportunity to take on larger leadership roles. Leading people at work is a skill that can be learned and improved. 


7 - Strategic Planning - In addition to learning to lead people at work, you will need to sharpen your strategic planning skills to be an effective leader. You don't have to be a visionary to be a strategic planner. A good strategic plan can also come from a good strategic planning process that generates ideas from your team and prioritized them against your goals. Strategic planning is as much about deciding what not to do as it is about deciding what to do. 


You spend a lot of time on your annual performance management process. Make sure you get a payoff for that work. Use your self-appraisal and development plans to ask your manager for trainings like these that will help you succeed. If you lead people at work, recommend these trainings as needed for your people as you assess their opportunities for improvement. Performance management often focuses on the past. These trainings can show a path forward to future success.

Categories: Career Planning, Performance Management, Communication Skills