This blog is about how some sectors have everything they need to determine what skills the firm should invest in. Yet they can’t see the wood for the trees or, sometimes, the trees through the fog.
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Soft skills or hard skills?
Recently, a few LinkedIn discussions have been about training and a move away from a prescribed model of Continual Professional Development (CPD). The change of strategy is aimed and improving the services and outcomes that people buying legal services receive. This is on a similar theme to a recent blog describing how some people need soft skills, others hard skills and why they end up with the wrong thing.
If this happens firms will still use CPD yet any lack of improvement in the firms outcomes will be down to the partners rather than blamed on inadequate training resources. Their biggest challenge will be finding and keeping the most valuable resource. Those that continue with a tick box approach will find their best talent moving to firms who invest seriously in their people. They want skills that they can use rather than being bored silly in “classrooms”.
Interest in prescriptive courses falls
The discussions have confirmed large firms create their own training management programmes. No surprise there then. However, it appears that their trainers don’t like the sort of repetitive delivery some CPD courses have them undertake. In fact, all firms pick their own training yet some have been quickly picking from a list that’s sent to them.
If the list dwindles because interest in prescriptive courses falls across the sector, they’ll have to think again. In an ideal legal services World, feedback from COLP and COFA reports would help determine Professional Development requirements. Feedback from clients will develop sets of soft skill requirements. Feedback from staff appraisals and colleagues would enable a double check to be put in place.
All these systems should already be in place at firms. Yet how many smaller firms have only paid lip service to these regulations? This is another opportunity to turn regulation into a positive. Those that already do these have all they need to get real with their investment in talent.
Best practice or recommend trainers?
Firms can also share best practice or recommend trainers who have made a real difference for their firm. LinkedIn is a good place to do that. Naturally, some trainers will advertise in any discussion you start there. Most solicitors are used to ignoring those comments and being open could lead to other benefits. Such as client work introduced by other fee earners that they would normally turn away.
More important is the opportunity to check which courses to avoid. He who saves his staff time also saves his company money. Think about the amount of time you’ve spent undoing “training” staff received elsewhere. Your clients are making use of the recommendation economy, especially when they want to know who they should avoid if they want a return on their investment. You should too.
Wrap up: It appears regulators are realising that an industry with similar issues appearing across the sector might have an issue with the training available. Some people think the CPD badge is a mark of quality. It is not that sort of guarantee.
Top tip: Ask staff what training they hate or would love. I have never been a fan of receiving or delivering training without an assessment of it being needed and guaranteeing a desireable outcome.