Their position in the matrix will help you determine what actions to take next:
Deprioritize the dogs
Dogs, in the lower-right quadrant of the grid, are skills that have low organizational impact and a high cost to train for. In the original framework, they were called dogs because they were bedogging or plaguing the company.
Dogs have the potential to tie up valuable training budgets while contributing very little to the company’s long-term goals or bottom line. Drop these needs completely, or to try to reframe them in a way that decreases their liability.
Skills that require expensive or frequent training programs are likely dog suspects. For example, your organization traditionally sent new salespeople to an expensive, in-person training to learn to use the company’s CRM software. However, you are already planning to switch CRM services in the next two years, lessening the long-term impact of this costly training.
It would be prudent to either drop this training completely or find a way to mitigate costs. Perhaps new employees could receive in-house training from more senior employees instead.
Maintain a steady stream of workhorses
Workhorses exist in the lower-left quadrant. Training for these skills costs little to execute and isn’t as pivotal to the company’s future goals.
Workhorses are not exciting, shiny, or new. They might become irrelevant a couple of years down the line. But they can add value to the organization right now, with very little manpower or cost, so they are worth maintaining.
Common workhorses are trainings that fulfill a temporary need, rely on already-created training materials, or require little effort to roll out. If a member of our sales team frequently misses deadlines and meetings, we could sign them up for a pre-existing in-house time management course to bolster their performance with very little effort or expense. It doesn’t make a big impact on the organization as a whole, but it’s a low-cost way to boost a few employees' job performances.
Stars, in the upper-left quadrant, are high value and low cost. These training needs tie directly into the company’s goals and require very little overhead in terms of time and money.
Stars are the holy grail of gap analysis and should be prioritized as first on your list of skills to pursue. In an ideal world, stars would make up the bulk of your training programs (and if you create a robust base of tribal knowledge, they just might).
A great example of a star training need is product familiarization training. Your best-selling product has just been updated with some shiny new bells and whistles, and the sales team should be trained on how to use the new features. Educating the sales team is extremely relevant to the company’s goals because it will directly lead to more sales. But it also costs very little to implement. You can leverage peer learning and have a product engineer or project manager lead a course dedicated to explaining the features for next to nothing. All signs point to full speed ahead.
Keep an eye on question marks
Finally, question marks sit in the upper-right quadrant of the grid. Training for these skills will contribute directly to the company’s goals, but it will also be expensive to implement.
Question marks are a sign to proceed with caution. Don’t write the training off, but investigate ways to mitigate costs. Are there any alternative ways to fulfill this need? Perhaps you can leverage internal knowledge or test-drive a less expensive training program?
Maybe your company plans to incorporate AI automation into their email marketing software. This is a high-impact change that will free up manpower and increase overall company efficiency. Key members of the team need to be trained on how to use the automation tool to create and send customized emails. The official training course, however, is very expensive.
Consider your options. You might decide the training is worth the money and build it into your budget, or you might decide to temper your costs by sending only one employee to the training and relying on them to train others.
Related: 3 Data-Backed Ways to Prove Training ROI