When are your people 80% effective

The Pyramid of Skills

Working on the principle that all the skills needed to be effective in a job, can be trained. The order in which these skills are acquired can be very important. Studies have shown that in most jobs there are a few specific skills which massively impact on the effectiveness of the employee to perform the role. These few skills make the employee between 70 and 80% effective, the acquisition of the last 20% takes time and dedication and over time make the employee more effective and proficient. In business the employee may move on to a new job or a new company before they are 100% effective.

This Pareto acquisition principle can be demonstrated by following a new salesman’s progress.Pyramid 1

To become between 30 and 40% effective the salesman needs to develop a ‘selling story’ around the features and benefits of his/her product or service – with this skill s/he can talk to the buyer until the buyer says ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – buyer is in charge.
Pyramid 2The next logical skill to acquire is a ‘close’ – this will move the control of the process from the buyer to the seller and as a result the effectiveness moves to around 60%  as the seller now assumes responsibility for bringing the discussion to a head and chooses the appropriate moment to try to close the deal – the buyer will still decide ‘Yes’ or’No’.


Pyramid 3The skill to take the process to stage 3 and effectiveness towards 80% is a technique for overcoming objections raised
by the buyer, so having delivered the sales pitch, chosen and delivered the close, if the buyer says ‘No’ the seller can now uncover the objection and address it before closing once more.

The trick is therefore to identify and acquire the critical 80% as soon as possible. This will help an employer to get the best return form the employee and as an employee to become effective and be identified for reward or promotion as quickly as possible.

The Pyramid of Skills is a useful tool for helping teams become more effective, providing continuous improvement and recognition of good performance. As such it provides evidence for succession planning, appraisals and reward schemes.

Pyramid 4By plotting the skills needed to be a master of a particular job and then putting them in a logical progressive order and using the inverted pyramid. The graphic can be used to help ensure motivation and clarity of purpose.

To some degree the acquisition of the skills above the ‘Core Level’ becomes arbitrary, they may even depend upon opportunity or circumstance. Some skills may be very quick to teach and learn, others may take months or even years to acquire and perfect. The Pyramid of Skills helps to plan and monitor progress form one level to the next and to temper ambition with reality in some cases. Individuals also feel they understand what they need to practice and develop before they can progress and have a way to measure their achievement.

Pyramid 5

As the job holder becomes more proficient at their chosen job, they will by accident or design learn skills that are the ‘core skills’ of the next level of proficiency. Again this will help businesses identify several things

  1. Employees to protect and reward
  2. Skill gaps
  3. Employee Training and Development needs
  4. Employees to promote and stretch
  5. Skills to look for when recruiting

Developing your own specific Pyramid of Skills

Begin by listing all the skills which you feel you need to do the job, try to think of it as if you were ‘selling the job to someone else’ – try to remove the emotion and the propensity to major on the things you like doing. If this job were being done perfectly by someone else, what would it be that s/he would be doing that makes him/her so effective.

Once you have a list, think some more and add a couple of other things to it…

Now you have your list, start by ranking it [if there is a tie – don’t worry just as long as all the items don’t tie!] – If you can get other people to rank the skills, the more the better – make sure they think about the target job when they are ranking them.

What are the critical skills for the next job up? These need to go into the appropriate position on your Pyramid [the green spaces at the top of your pyramid]

Populating your specific Pyramid of Skills

The first ranked skill goes into the bottom ‘green slot’ then the second goes to the left and the 3rd to the right hand ‘green slot’ – after that it is best to proceed upwards from left to right. The next job size critical skills fill the appropriate green slots at the top of your pyramid. Now give it a try – how does it feel?

The secret is to get started and then remember…

There is always MoreThan1Answer…