Posts Tagged ‘Management’

Why are companies so averse to training?

August 25, 2009

Reading the comments on a recent Telegraph article (via RateMyPlacement’s tweet) someone mentioned that many companies either cutting back training or do not spend any meaningful amount on training at all.

It struck me as being very true, yet something I find quite staggering really. I know of a fairly small business consultancy but with major multi-national clients, who you’d think would practice what they preach to clients and invest time and money in ensuring their non-consulting staff are trained up in the latest techniques (especially for things like creating training materials/books etc. which require specialist knowledge and the latest software) but they don’t…

I’m sure many would ask “why waste money on training someone up for them to just walk out the door?”, to which I would say well they might… but surely by demonstrating your commitment to them (through training) they are more likely to stay and once trained should be more productive and produce higher quality work.

Companies may also say they are perfectly able to import the skills needed, through hiring people who are already trained and have X years experience. But doesn’t this lead to more people jumping ship? If you see a possible career advancement (if you were trained up) that kept getting filled by those from outside the business you are likely to leave. Probably costing more to the company through disruption and lost productivity than any training!

I could see it leadig to an endemic problem within the employment market, where eventually nobody will be able to join a company (especially at the slightly lower end) without so many years experience yet have no way to actually get that experience because no companies are willing to give people the opportunity to advance themselves. (It was nigh-on impossible for me to get an accounts assistant role as I had no relevant experience, apart from my degree and a non-relevavnt year-long industrial placement).

I firmly believe training of staff should be a key objective of all managers, start looking further than the upfront cost.

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Use the downturn wisely, prepare for the future upturn

February 17, 2009

John Baldoni in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post suggests that companies should be looking at preparing their organisation and its employees for when the economy starts on the upward trend.

So rather than sitting around moaning at a lack of demand and laying off workers or having enforced shutdowns (as in the automotive industry), managers should instead focus on activities which they would not normally have time to do, but nonetheless can be benefitial to the organisation.

John Baldoni gives four key suggestions for leaders on how to prepare their organisations:

  • Master your operations,
  • Use the downtime wisely,
  • Invest in your people,
  • Spread some hope throughout the organization.

To master your operations organisations need to work at understanding their strengths and weaknesses, so they know where to improve and what strengths they can leverage to greater use. Examine everything about your product offering and what your competitors are doing, can you learn anything from this? Secure your financial position to enable investment in the future, this may involve cost cutting exercises but could also be through divesting business units which are not core to the organisation’s strategic direction. As Baldoni says, “In short, get your house in order.”

Use the downtime wisely, with a reduced workload your employees can spend time to think about the activities they do on a day-to-day basis, what could be done better, does it even need to be done? Baldoni suggests organising brainstorming sessions and strategic planning exercises. And to encourage idea generation, it is in the downturn that organisations can be innovative and have potentially revolutionary products hitting the market just as the up-turn hits full steam. At an organisation I have worked for, they set one morning a week as a time to work as a team/section to come up with new ideas and reduce waste effort, this is the sort of thing I think organisations should be doing all the time and not just in times of trouble.

Invest in your people, with employees less busy now is an ideal time to invest in training them up with the latest skills. Apart from emerging with a more capable workforce,  which in theory should improve performance, organisations will also, Baldoni says, “demonstrate a commitment that has a better chance of being returned when the good times do.”

Spread some hope throughout the organization, Baldoni suggests leaders should “control what you can control and live on.” So, rather than dwelling on all the negative things, of which there is likely to be lots, they should concentrate on things they have control over and can make a positive contribution. In other words, have clear goals and objectives for the short term, work with purpose, not in hope that nothing bad will happen.

What does Richard think about this?

It would be nice to have some positive news from organisations for a change… Those organisations that do use this slow-period wisely to: take stock, reorganise, train and invest for the future, are the ones which are likely to survive for a long time yet, and if they are lucky out of this downturn might come that ‘killer idea’ which revolutionises their sector and sets them up for a long period of success.

I understand, however, that for a lot of companies the lack of credit availability is severely impacting on their ability to function when combined with severely diminished sales, in this situation it is imperative to undertake Baldoni’s first two suggestions, these will guide the way to scaling down their organisation to their restricted circumstances.

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