“Close to two-thirds of our associ- ates have taken ‘Communicating with Impact,’ and the majority who have not taken it are newer associates, those on board less than a year,” said Byers. “We try to make sure all of our managers complete the leadership version of this course because it pro- vides such an excellent foundation for how to manage associates. “When associates complete ‘Com- municating with Impact,’ they are qualified to attend more advanced courses that focus on aspects of com- munication,” she added. “The DDI courses for managers focus on soft skills like motivating others, resolving conflict, setting goals, and leading high-performance teams.” Springfield Electric also offers the FranklinCovey course “ 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity,” which helps associates strengthen decision- making skills. A refresher course of- fered in subsequent years allows grad- uates to regroup and share their expe- riences and best practices. Another resource that Springfield Electric employs is the NAED Lear- ning Center, which provides hundreds of online courses covering both hard and soft skills. In addition to third-party pro- grams, Springfield Electric creates 10 to 15 custom courses each year. “We tap internal talent as much as possible to design and deliver the courses,” Byers explained. “We might ask one of our resident experts to de- velop a course or ask a less seasoned associate, as a challenge assignment, to help him or her develop additional skills. We might pull in our CFO to teach a case study on financial man- agement or the corporate director of strategic pricing for a course on contracts or negotiating pricing with vendors. As many as 95% of the SESCO University courses are taught by associates.” Given the unprecedented pace of technologic innovation, companies will not thrive—and might not even survive—without employees who col- laborate to solve prickly problems and persuasively communicate their well- formulated ideas and proposals to col- leagues and customers alike. “Mastering hard skills while ignor- ing the soft ones is a bit like going to the gym every night but being careless about nutrition. You need both ele- ments to find success,” Yang said. ; Niehaus, LEED GA, is the president and founder of Communication by Design ( communicationbydesign.net). She can be reached at 314-644-4135 or Jan@CommunicationByDesign.net.
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