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Upskilling Consultative Team Members on Technical Research Skills

As Research migrates towards a more consultative role, companies are hiring researchers with business acumen and consultative skills. But these new hires often lack qualitative and quantitative research skills required to be effective technical researchers. Yet, most Research heads, facing the pressure to do more with smaller teams, want these “consultative” team members to take on core research responsibilities (which require technical research skills), in addition to their consultative responsibilities. 

In our new research on  “Technical Skills for the New Market Researcher” that is currently under way, we’re looking at identifying progressive practices in training design and delivery to help managers bring “consultative” new hires up to speed on baseline technical skills.

Here are some of our latest observations:

  • “Bionic researchers” don’t exist: Companies who’ve tried to either hire or train “Bionic researchers,” equally proficient at both consultative AND technical skills have found that it’s surprisingly difficult to find both skill-sets in the same person. But…many companies do not have specialized roles and do expect consultative team members to take up some core research responsibilities as well. The need of the hour is developing small-b “bionic researchers,” i.e., upskilling consultative team members on baseline technical skills, without expecting them to be expert technical researchers.
  • Organization structure influences technical skills required: In general, new hires in research functions without clearly demarcated “consultant” and “technical researcher” roles need a higher degree of technical skills to perform their mixed responsibilities than new team members hired as “pure consultants” in a split-structure research team.
  • Big Data is changing the required technical skills: Given the availability of Big Data, the focus for Research is shifting towards understanding the abundant data available, instead of collecting new data. As a result, technical skills needed to collect data (e.g., writing and administering surveys) are becoming less important than technical skills needed to understand the vast data available.
  • Matching training to technical skills required is key: While a vast majority of companies do offer some technical skills training, adjusting the training content for staff at different levels and in different roles and delivering it through best-fit channels will drive training effectiveness.

What are your ideas on this topic?

Do you believe that ALL staff on your team—even consultative team members—need at least baseline technical skills? If so, what are these technical skills? What is the training support you provide “consultative” new hires to bring them up to speed on technical skills?

Or do you believe that “pure consultants” don’t need technical research skills to be effective in their roles?

If you would like to speak with us further on this topic please email us— we’d love to hear about your experience in designing and executing technical skills training. If you’re currently considering a technical skills training program or are at the drawing board stage, we’d love to hear your thoughts too!

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