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What’s a Skill Development Program?

A skill development program is, well, exactly what it sounds like! It’s a program within any organization that’s created to help employees continually develop and sharpen their skills. From beginning to end, a well-built skills development program helps to personalize coaching across their organization, detecting specific skill gaps within each of their reps.

Let’s take a step back, though, and start with the first half of that phrase. What is skill development all by itself? It may be easier to understand with some examples. Skill development is relevant and applicable to both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the ones that you can learn on YouTube or in a book, or typically in your job’s onboarding. Hard skills include things like Excel, coding, accounting, yoga, and web design.  They’re skills that can be improved with hands-on practice! Soft skills are the ones that are a bit harder to measure. Think communication skills, teamwork, time management, stress management—things that are more rooted in personality traits. Don’t worry, though, these skills can be improved too! Now that you know the different types of skill development, let’s talk about why companies need a skill development program.

Why Do Companies Need a Skill Development Program?

Implementing a skill development program at your organization may sound like a huge hurdle. Rolling out a new process, investing in the right software or program, getting everyone onboarded, introductory meetings—phew, that can be a lot of work!. But there are quite a few benefits of skill development that we think you’ll find are extremely worth it.

1. Your products and services change often.

As your organization changes its offerings, so should your reps’ selling and service strategies. Adapting to change, finding new ways to connect with the customer, and staying sharp in deal-closing conversations are all skills that need to be continually worked on. Not only are your products or services changing often, but so are the hard skills that your industry may be built on. From 30,000 feet, the success of your reps and therefore, your bottom line, all comes back to the importance of skill training.

2. Your organization is in an extremely competitive industry.

In the words of Marty Wolf from Big Fat Liar, “This is Hollywood, baby. It’s a dog-eat-dog town. We got cats eatin’ cats. We got fish munchin’ fish.” Sometimes, you may feel like this depending on the industry that you’re in. Coming from the B2B software space, we hear ya. While this may be true, are you still wondering how this translates to the importance of skill training? It all boils down to employees needing to stay sharp. Their soft and hard skill buckets need to not only stay full, but they need to be filled with the freshest water out there, otherwise, it’s easy to fall behind. Not to mention, employees know when they are or aren’t being invested in by their employer. If they think they can learn more, work their way up, and fill their skill buckets faster elsewhere, they’ll make the move quicker than you can say ‘skill development program.’

3. Employees want to feel valued.

If you’ve made it this far and are still asking yourself, “What is the importance of skill development training?” then consider this: Your employees are hungry to grow. They chose you just like you chose them, and they’re eager to learn more, challenge themselves, and develop their skills as an employee. If your sales team is crushing it and closing deal after deal, kudos! That’s hard to do. You and your team have found something that works for your product, industry, and customer. This seems like a good time to revert back to #1 and #2 in this section. Staying on top of the industry means staying ahead. Integrating a skill development program into your organization means providing additional training and development opportunities for your employees before they ask for it, before you fall behind, and before you stop crushing it.

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How to Create a Skill Development Program

Creating a skill development program may not happen overnight, but don’t get discouraged! We’re here to break it down step-by-step so it feels approachable and achievable. The skill development process starts here!

1. Set program goals.

What are you looking to achieve by implementing a skill development program? What results, short and long term, are you hoping to see? It’s important to start by making a list of goals for your skill development program. Helpful tip: Tap into other organization decision-makers and employees that may have asked for something like this in the past.

2. Identify skills that are important to your organization’s goals.

Based on the type of organization, the product or services you sell, and your selling structure, what are the skills that drive success? Looking at your organization’s biggest pitfalls may be a good place to start. Why are those pitfalls happening? What skills could help change that?

3. Determine which skills your employees have.

Here’s a skill development example that we can all relate to. Remember on the first day of middle school, your science or math teacher would hand out a pop quiz that wouldn’t affect your grade? They merely wanted to assess where the class was at with certain topics and concepts. This helped the teacher strategize how to approach certain lessons and where to meet certain students if they struggled with timetables or lacked knowledge about photosynthesis.

Think of this as taking inventory. And, doing the same thing with your employees is a great foundation when implementing your skill development program. To do so, have a meeting with your team and talk about common roadblocks or struggles. Or, send out a survey asking employees to rate their skills on a scale of 1 to 5. Leave some answers open-ended so you can hear from them first hand which skills they wish they had the resources to improve on. It may even help to provide some skills training examples to trigger their thought process. Remember, determining hard and soft skills is important here. Assessing hard skills at face value may be doable using your current CRM platforms, but rely on honest conversations, reflections, and observations to see where your employees’ soft skills stand.

4. Identify skills that need improvement. 

Based on those conversations and survey responses from your managers and employees, identify the skill gaps that you want to tackle. Make a list of the skills that need improvement and compare them side-by-side with the list you made in the second step.. Where is your team falling short? What’s standing in-between your employees’ skills and the ones that determine company success? These are the areas they need additional and ongoing training on.

5. Decide how to deliver your training program.

The data has been captured, skill lists have been made, and now you’re ready to deliver a skill development training course to your employees. What’s the best way to execute? Online training courses or in-person training sessions? What does the check-in cadence look like?

Rolling out an efficient and organized program organization-wide while keeping it personal to individual employees seems like a lot. This is where certain tools and platforms can come in handy. With Lessonly Skills, you can deliver personalized coaching at scale. For example, you can facilitate streamlined skill development classes online, while assessing company goals as a whole, analyzing employee skills on a personal level, and even create custom coaching plans for them along the way.

6. Track skill development over time.

We put in work like this to see results, right? Lessonly Skills also helps managers and trainers easily track progress over time to see if the trainings are actually working. See how an individual employee is progressing in certain skill areas, and assess your team as a whole to see if you’re closing those gaps you identified early on and are more quickly and more efficiently meeting the company goals you set when you first started this process.

Lessonly Makes Skill Development Training Effective and Engaging

Unlike personalized skill training programs, old-school training is tiring. It’s monotonous, boring, and chances are employees dread it. Lessonly’s training, enablement, and coaching software can help any organization create and implement an engaging and effective skill training program. It’s built to empower revenue-driving teams to hone their skills up to 2.3x faster so they can start crushing it with customers even sooner. Here’s how:

  1. Practice Makes Progress. Using Lessonly Practice, you can create training lessons that address specific skills, require employees to rehearse real-life scenarios, create feedback loops, and watch performance flourish. Pointed practice for employees will help them where they need it, and let them know you care about their individual progress, as well as the company as a whole.  
  2. Perform. Measure. Repeat. Track skill development over time while easily assessing and uncovering room for improvement. 
  3. Celebrate The Wins. With Lessonly Certifications, you can also enable your team to showcase their skills, develop professionally, and tangibly mark progress in their careers.

If you think your organization can benefit from a skill development training program, Lessonly Skills is here, ready to help. If you’re ready to learn more about Lessonly, click on any of the tiles below, or click here.

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