The Ken Blanchard Companies

April 11, 2006 08:00 ET

What's Keeping Corporate Leaders Up at Night? Skills Shortages at All Levels -- From the Top to the Front Line: The Ken Blanchard Companies® Releases Findings From Its 2006 Issues Survey

SAN DIEGO--(CCNMatthews - Apr 11, 2006) -

The Ken Blanchard Companies® annual corporate issues survey points to a skills gap for corporate leadership positions, as well as trained talent at all levels. As organizations deal with an increasing pace of change, attracting, retaining, and developing bench strength is emerging as a key issue. This may be fueled by continuing competitive pressures, growth and expansion objectives, and concerns over retirement and the need to compete for talent. (See survey results below.)

More than 800 training and development professionals responded to The Ken Blanchard Companies fourth annual polling of a wide range of companies and industries. In total, 2,200 individuals have participated in the survey over the past four years. They were asked these questions:

What are your organization's top management challenges?

What are your organization's top employee development challenges?

What are your organization's top business challenges?

Results of the survey indicate that concerns about skills shortages are even more acute today than four years ago -- 43% of all respondents included it in the top three business challenges this year compared to 34% in 2003. They specifically pinpointed retooling and reskilling their workforce to meet escalating customer demands, and creating management and executive bench strength as key issues.

Competitive pressure, though still the number one business challenge, declined by 11%. For the first time respondents cited growth and expansion as major concerns. Respondents said their organizations continue to struggle with the economy, funding and budgets. Yet cost reductions seem to weigh less heavily than past years.

Top management challenges center around developing potential leaders, selecting and retaining key talent, and creating an engaged workforce. More respondents recognized the importance this year over prior years of driving innovation, and results support that concerns about leadership skills gaps left by retirement of baby boomers and the need to compete for talent weigh on organizations around the globe.

Top management challenges and top employee development challenges include:

-- Developing potential leaders, up 5% over the last two years

-- Selecting and retaining key talent, up 4% from 2005

-- Improving managerial and supervisory skills, up 5% from the last two years, and the number one issue for four consecutive years.

-- Creating an engaged workforce, up 5% from the last two years

-- Succession planning, up 8% since last year; though down from 2003

-- Developing interpersonal skills jumped into second place as the second most important employee development challenge, increasing 11% over the prior year.

Customer relationship skills remained as the number three challenge, and team building skills ranked as the fourth employee development challenge. Anecdotal comments show that conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and basic communication skills are important components as well.

Respondents were asked where they expect to focus their time, energy, and budgets in regard to employee development. The top five priorities in order of importance are: leadership development, managerial and supervisory development, coaching skills for leaders, and communications skills.

The 2006 Corporate Issues Survey findings are provided courtesy of The Ken Blanchard Companies® -- a global leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership effectiveness that helps people excel as self-leaders and as leaders of others. Many Blanchard® programs for teams, situational leadership, customer loyalty, change management, and leadership effectiveness blend the use of assessments with instructor-led and online learning. Using best practices based on the company's continual research, Blanchard's world-class trainers and coaches support people in making the shift from learning to doing and drive sustainability into all levels of organizations. To learn more, visit www.kenblanchard.com.



Survey Findings: Four-Year Overview

Top Organizational Business Challenges and Issues

2003 2004 2005 2006
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1. Competitive pressure 71% 67% 63% 60%
2. Growth and Expansion (asked in 2006 only) n/a n/a n/a 53%
3. Skill shortages 34% 34% 39% 43%
4. Pricing sensitivity 45% 39% 38% 34%
5. Changing technology 31% 32% 30% 29%
6. Government regulation 29% 27% 30% 28%
7. Industry consolidation 18% 20% 14% 13%

Top Management Challenges

1. Developing potential leaders 74% 58% 58% 63%
2. Selecting and retaining key talent 55% 55% 53% 57%
3. Creating engaged workforce 47% 48% 48% 53%
4. Reducing costs 58% 49% 50% 45%
5. Succession planning 48% 36% 34% 42%
6. Customer loyalty 46% 45% 41% 41%
7. Company flexibility/responsiveness 39% 44% 35% 39%
8. Increasing innovation 32% 31% 32% 36%

Top Employee Development Challenges

1. Manager/supervisor skills 75% 61% 61% 66%
2. Interpersonal communication skills 53% 56% 40% 51%
3. Customer relationship skills 51% 48% 44% 48%
4. Team building skills 46% 44% 38% 46%
5. Executive development 48% 36% 32% 36%
6. Sales skills 35% 31% 31% 26%
7. Professional skills 19% 31% 28% 31%
8. Information technology skills 13% 26% 23% 25%



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