• Edwin and George

Training, training and more training

EGM On A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies


‘Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’ Richard Branson.


Yuval Noah Harari writes:

By 2050, it’s agreed that every line of work will change – to prosper, individuals will need to constantly re-invent themselves throughout their careers. People who will do well are those who have the capability to keep changing, keep learning and develop skills for the future.’ (1)

Companies and individuals are facing a huge challenge.

The move to hybrid working has accelerated the need for the development of new workforce skills - fifty eight per cent of senior leaders in a recent global survey agree there’s an urgent need to build new skills in their workforce to future proof their business. (2)


The rapid rise of digitalization and remote work have placed new demands on employees who now require different skills to support how work gets done and deliver the business priorities their companies are setting.’ (3)


The challenges will only grow - demand for social and emotional skills, for example – ones that machines can’t master – will increase by 25% in the next decade.’ (3)


According to recent research by McKinsey, the skills now in demand as work changes are:

  • Leadership and managing others

  • Critical thinking

  • Decision making

  • Project management

  • Adaptability

  • Basic digital skills

  • Interpersonal skills (communication, empathy)

  • Data analytics and mathematical skills

  • Quantitative and statistical skills

  • Complex information processing and interpretation

  • IT skills and programming

  • Design thinking. (4)

The message is clear. Training, training and more training. (5)

But, there’s one big problem:


Companies see training as a cost – not an investment.

I am staggered that in business, training, growth and real development are rare. A course here and there, a meeting now and then but not a consistent professional approach. Let me be clear. This holds for a 6 person outfit where everyone is central as well as a multi-national company.’ (6)

🏆 2022 goal – training as the investment producing the highest return on anything your company does.


A strategic opportunity – not a necessary evil

A massive differentiator – to attract the best talent - give great customer service and drive financial performance.


Score 1 point for each ‘Yes; answer:


Is your Chief Training Officer (CTO) your highest profile C-suite executive other than the CEO?

Are your top trainers paid as much as your top marketeers or engineers?

If you stop a colleague in the corridor can they describe in detail their next 12-month development plan?

Are your training courses so good people queue up to go on them?

In the last communication your CEO put out, did she highlight the company’s great training and development strategy?


(Doubt you have a CTO – and if you do it’s the Chief Technology Officer).


Score: 0-3 (looks like you might just be taking care of your own development – get onto it quick), 4-5: (Wow - let us know how you’re doing it).


Important exercise:

  1. Assess the level of training for each member of your team

  2. Rate the quality of the courses they attend – whether classroom, virtual, digital

  3. Evaluate the quality of the training staff

  4. Is the training your company provides - current, of the highest quality, stretching, co-coordinated and relevant in 2021?

Where can improvements be made?


Then for 2022:


Upskilling (development of existing skills) or reskilling (development of new skills) an entire company’s workforce is clearly a significant undertaking – and difficult to get right.


Starting point - understand the company strategy and goals – what’s the company looking to achieve in 2022?

  • What roles are key to the success of the strategy?

  • How will the roles be impacted by hybrid working, new ways of operating and technology? What are the implications for the skills these people need?

  • Who supports the key role holders and how are they impacted? What are the implications for the skills these people need?

  • Keep building the picture from here until each role (or job family) is analyzed

  • Conduct team or individual assessments, run focus groups involving team leaders and staff – determine the levels of the desired skills in the company now.

  • Where are the gaps?

  • Develop the plan to close the gaps – what kind of training will be used? What are the timelines? How will progress be tracked?


Or as McKinsey puts it:

  1. Scout – workforce analysis to determine skills gaps

  2. Shape – prioritize initiatives to close the skills gap and make sure the workforce is future ready

  3. Shift – deliver skills transformation across the company through comprehensive skills building programmes that address the most critical skills areas. Implement dynamic tracking of progress and impact (7)

And, of course, there is a plethora of technology, in the form of learning management systems, that can help you on your way.


Companies, and individuals, are at a critical juncture when it comes to skill building.

Dramatic changes are needed to thrive—or even survive—in the future.


Do not fall into the trap of focusing only on ‘hard’ technological skills or digital-only channels for learning. The pandemic has shown how critical interpersonal skills really are – they require a high level of attention so gaps can be filled.



  1. 21 lessons for the 21st century, Yuval Noah Harari

  2. Three keys to building a more skilled post pandemic workforce, McKinsey, 30 July 2021

  3. Building workforce skills at scale to thrive during – and after – the crisis, McKinsey,30 April 2021

  4. Covid 19, implications for business, McKinsey, 4 August 2021

  5. The quote ‘training, training and more training’ was said by Admiral Chester Nimtz, commander in chief, after being asked why America was unprepared for Pearl Harbour

  6. Excellence now, extreme humanism. Tom Peters

  7. Building workforce skills at scale to thrive during – and after – the crisis, McKinsey,30 April 2021

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