Billions of dollars are spent every year by companies on training their employees, but Inc.com columnist Geoffrey James says that unless companies make sure to follow a number of basic principles, then they stand a good chance of wasting their training budgets. For James, the most basic of these principles is that training needs to be about teaching “skills” not “traits.” James for instance uses the example of an introverted field engineer being trained to go out on customer calls. Training designed to make this engineer more “outgoing” or “personable”, is likely to be much less effective than training that focuses on teaching very specific skills, such as active listening and use of understandable terminology. Once the focus is on teaching concrete skills, James says the next step is determining what specific skills specific workers need to learn, rather than taking a one-size-fits all approach that may waste the time of both the trainer and the worker by teaching unnecessary or redundant skills. Next, James says skills need to be reinforced so they become a habit, rather than slipping away shortly after training. Finally, to measure the effectiveness of training, James suggests the use of skill-based metrics, both as a way to measure the success of training and a way to reinforce the importance of the skills taught in that training.