In listening to a great webinar last week, on the importance of workforce competency development in the public sector, it became clear that there are a set of competencies which are relevant to all commercial managers. A key point which was overlooked in the session was how to integrate skills and capabilities.
It is great to develop skills, but unless they are the right skills, then one will fall short in attaining high yields from commercial contracts and commercial relationships. By analogy, a race car team strives to win each race. They might train their driver to be the best driver. They will train their pit crew to be quick. However, if the ownership group does not provide the best car, the best tires and the best tools to conduct the pit stop, they will seldom win a race. If the driver has elite skills, but is forced to drive a four-door sedan, they will likely not win many races. If the car is a Formula One race car, but the driver has not been taught how to shift gears, they will likely not win many races. There must be an investment in the skills/competencies as well as the tools, processes, practices and capabilities.
If we invest in Change Management training, but fail to create a Change Management process and fail to provide Change Management tools, then the Change Management training will likely lead to frustration and little improvement in the overall Change Management effectiveness. We must integrate the capability assessments with the skills assessments. We must find the processes and practices which are most advanced, define the skills needed for those capabilities and assess whether the requisite competencies are in place. If not, then make those competencies a high priority in the training plan. Conversely, if a certain capability is low priority or not needed, then why invest in skills which are solely needed for that capability. As we automate certain capabilities, such as tendering and contract drafting, then will the skills need for those capabilities warrant development and the related investment?
In short, should we be training our commercial management teams to do the things we did in the past – or train them to do things we will be doing in the future?