In Slovakia's headlong dash from communism to capitalism, social skills training has lagged behind, leaving Slovak business people without the interpersonal skills they need to succeed in the new corporate world. The gap is being bridged by management consulting firms and corporations themselves, which now offer a wide variety of in-house training courses in anything from conflict resolution to self-presentation.
"Especially with the older employees of some Slovak firms, we are discovering a lot of personal misunderstandings, a huge lack of personal skills," said Marián Kubeš, founding partner of Bratislava consulting firm Maxman Consultants. "What we can teach them are things like, "How I should treat my co-workers," or "How could I communicate better," or "How I can present myself better."
Kubeš said that his company focussed on providing in-house training for private firms in "interpersonal skills like delegation, team work, leadership, communication and negotiation. We deal mostly with middle and top management personnel."
Sílvia Bzduchová, Senior Project Manager at Jenewein, Slovakia's biggest management consulting firm, said that her company offered a similar array of in-house courses for corporations, principally in the areas of "personality and social skills. We identify the problems that a firm might be having, we develop a program and then apply it. These [interpersonal skills] are things that are not being taught at state schools."
Many corporations, however, are taking things into their own hands. "Many firms are now actively working with university students, giving them practical training, with the idea that one day these students will be working for them," said Martin Novotny, principal consultant at Jenewein. "Corporations are also holding their own private education courses for employees, that again stress the practical over the theoretical."
Lynn Cialdella, marketing manager at business consultants Cooper and Lybrand, detailed a complex series of courses that her firm offered its employees in tax and auditing practice. "After their first year, during which training is mostly in audit and tax skills, they move on to more soft skills like project management and negotiation skills - things they would use with our clients," she said. "Overall, our training is pretty well balanced [between business and personal skills.]"
20. Nov 1997 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson