It may be little comfort, but at least you’re not alone. Your competitors have the same issues. Your colleagues in other industries have the same issues. Businesses larger and smaller than yours have the same issues, on larger and smaller scales. Like death and taxes, challenges in the business world are inevitable and universal.
Here’s another universal truth: education is the magic elixir that helps businesses face them all. Thanks to Ken Blanchard, I’ve got the numbers to prove it.
With more than two decades helping energize organizations through learning and development, Ken is one of the leading voices in the human capital chorus. Ken recently hosted a luncheon to share some interesting research that I thought I’d share with you.
Earlier this year, The Ken Blanchard Companies received input from more than 500 organizations, which were asked to answer three questions:
- What are your organization’s top business challenges?
- What are your organization’s top management challenges?
- What are your organization’s top employee development challenges?
I find it fitting that employee development followed the business and management challenges on that list, because development is truly the foundation from which you address the other issues. As you’ll see, survey respondents agreed.
On the first question, competitive pressures led the list of business challenges, cited by 67 percent of respondents. Other issues included government regulation (27 percent), skill shortages (34 percent), changing technology (32 percent) and industry consolidation (20 percent).
For the second question, the challenges were ranked more closely. Topping the list was developing potential leaders (58 percent of respondents), followed by selecting and retaining key talent (55 percent), reducing costs (49 percent), creating an engaged workforce (48 percent), improving customer loyalty and retention (45 percent), improving company flexibility and responsiveness (44 percent), succession planning (36 percent) and increasing innovation (31 percent).
Clearly, education isn’t just a solution to those problems; it’s the solution. The Blanchard survey backs that up too, with respondents’ top employee development challenges clearly mirroring the business and management issues.
At 61 percent, managerial and supervisory skills were the most common development hurdle. Rounding out the list are customer relationship skills (48 percent), interpersonal communication (46 percent), team-building (44 percent), executive development (36 percent), professional skills and sales skills (31 percent each), information technology skills (26 percent) and improving product knowledge (23 percent).
I don’t think you need an Excel spreadsheet covered with graphs and charts to see the picture that emerges from this data—education is the universal answer for common business issues. That’s not surprising, of course. Would your company fund the work you and your teams do if there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel?
So beyond these big-bucket problems, what’s challenging you these days? Whatever your specific issue, it’s safe to say you’re using education, learning and development to create a solution. I’d love to hear more about your customized approach; write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If personal experience isn’t your guide, ask any executive peer and they’ll tell you business can be a painful process. Doesn’t it feel good when your work helps ease the pressure for someone else?
Editor in Chief