Next to an organization's project-management training, communication skills may be the area of most focus. As workers become more specialized, their reliance on teammates to accomplish tasks outside of their skill set increases [source: Smith]. Naturally, communication between these different operations is critical.
The skills needed to effectively send a message -- whether it's colleague-to-colleague, manager-to-employee or organization-to-branch office -- and have that message be received and turned into something actionable is a skill that can be taught just like any other job function.
The most efficient, highest performing companies are the ones that hire good communicators. According to a 2005 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, effective communications skills ranks as the most desired trait for new hires [source: NACE]. This underscores that companies recognize the importance of effective communication and are willing to prioritize it above all other traits when considering candidates. To put the importance of communication into perspective, that skill tied with honesty and integrity, surpassing teamwork and a strong work ethic [source: NACE].
Unlike project management, which may apply to a small portion of a company's workforce, communication skills are necessary for everyone who walks through the door. But for large organizations, it would be cost-prohibitive to send everyone through formalized training. This is when it becomes necessary to prioritize which departments would draw the biggest benefits from training.
For example, a sales force that interacts with customers on a daily basis may be a better investment for this type of training than the legal department. Specific indicators that point to a more systematic shortcoming in a group's communication skills can also shape this. If a research-and-development group is consistently falling behind on deadlines or not meeting deliverable requirements for product launches, bolstering the team's communication skills may be just the thing to turn around performance.
The type of training to provide is also an important consideration. Options can include exclusive contracts with professional development companies that can provide in-depth analysis of an organization's strengths and weaknesses, offer a suite of services to help improve these areas and provide regular refresher training to keep the staff sharp. Of course, this is costly, both in terms of capital investment and the amount of downtime sacrificed by having a group of workers participate.
Most companies will offer anecdotal support for staff as a reaction to a particular issue. Project post-mortems -- meetings that happen once a problematic venture has been completed -- are a popular way to address communications shortfalls that occurred over the course of the work. This is much more cost effective because it can be done with a single meeting and without outside consultants. It can also be more beneficial because the issues being addressed are actual instances the team has encountered rather than theory put forth by a communications guru [source: Johnston].
In the next section, we'll discuss time management training -- perhaps the most universally appreciated skill.