A few weeks back one of the members of our LinkedIn group asked a question which got me thinking about a universal concern: how to ensure a skilled supply of client relationship managers.
As Linda Metzger noted, there are lots of resources out there for those who want to be a better sales person. But where, she asked, should they go to learn best practice and become a student of the craft of client relationship management?
I believe this goes right to the heart of how we educate and train client relationship professionals of the future.
Last week I attended a conference where there was a lot of discussion about the “X and Y” generations and how their attitude and values can be very different to very often the “baby boomer” management that employ them.
One human resources director – from a company ranked high in lists of the best places to work – told me that many graduates coming through can be a challenge. She commented that they were having to train new recruits in areas that, at the very least, should have been taught at college and probably at school or at home.
This isn’t about academic skills, which are generally of a good standard. These youngsters were lacking what we usually describe those softer skills so essential in budding client relationship managers.
Another delegate pointed out that we might be missing something more fundamental –“shouldn’t we also be looking at the teachers?”
That reminded me of the daughter of a friend of mine. She has just completed her first year studying journalism. She’s worked hard in the holidays to gain experience at a number of leading TV and radio stations, and she remarked in passing that she now probably knows more about how a modern-day newsroom works than many of those teaching her.
She wasn’t saying this to be smug. It’s just that she was referring to an industry moving at such a rapid pace, with technology creating fundamental changes in the way people work, that those teaching it can easily become out-of-date unless they actually work at the cutting edge themselves.
The global financial crisis has created large scale unemployment and I believe we should create more college leavers who know how a modern business really works and can fit seamlessly into business life.
So here’s my big idea: as part of our corporate social responsibility shouldn’t more organisations be “adopting” teachers and lecturers?
This is about forming constructive links between education and commerce. We can do this by making sure teachers and lecturers have access to the latest techniques while also helping them to equip their students in the more rounded skills we need in business.
This also does not have to be a lot of work; it could involve briefing meetings, maybe open days or even a little bit of mentoring.
Think of the benefits: to the colleges, the schools, the teachers, the students and of course us, their future employers.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this. Could it work and is anybody doing this already?