It’s interesting to see how organizations scramble for ‘already-made’ talents, in the context of not just having the right qualifications and experience, but also having the right skill-set which is usually acquired through training. Even fresh graduates are expected to have some level of ‘workplace skills’ if they are going to be considered for hiring. This is not a bad ideology in itself because an employee must have the skills, knowledge and ability to perform on the job. The challenge however comes when talents are hired and continuous/constant training becomes a challenge for the organization.
“More often than not, employees use upskilling as a higher bargaining chip for higher positions in other organizations…”
I have heard many organizations lament the loss of employees after they have been trained. This is used as the basis for providing little or no training for staff based on the argument that once they are trained and ‘upskilled’, they leave the organization, causing other rival organizations to be the ones to benefit from their ‘investment’. This ‘line of thought’ is more associated with start-ups and some medium-sized organizations. When they think training, they think ‘cost’ instead of ‘investment’. Arguments can be made in favor of these organizations, to be fair. More often than not, employees use upskilling as a higher bargaining chip for higher positions in other organizations they consider to be more attractive in terms of their brand and reputation. As much as training is meant to be viewed as ‘investment’, it is also a ‘cost’ to the organization in actual terms. So, one can understand the reluctance of small-medium firms in providing extensive training for their staff.
However, the disadvantages of not training staff far outweigh whatever plausible reasons there might be for providing little or none of it. One, our schools do not provide the basic soft skills that are required to thrive in a workplace and for that reason, most graduates have to learn, relearn and unlearn once they come out of school. For that reason alone, an organization must train to equip the talent with the right skills to perform, thrive and produce results. This type of training doesn’t have to be so expensive. It can be done in-house or by collaborating with a few independent consultants/trainers. Two, no matter how many organizations are in a line of business, each organization is unique, has its own identity and its culture. Training must be done to ensure that employees’ behavioral competencies align with company culture. It is not enough to have knowledge and technical competence for a job role. Behaviors must align with the company’s brand and identity.
“Nothing is as frustrating and as destabilizing as having employees who are constantly underperforming…”
Three, every organization’s strategy evolves and as it evolves, new skills and competencies are required to enable the organization achieve its strategy. An organization may not always be able to hire fresh skills to meet its strategic objectives. It might be necessary and more cost-effective to upskill current employees to meet the ‘competency needs’ of the organization. Four, nothing is as frustrating and as destabilizing as having employees who are constantly underperforming, simply because they are not equipped to do their job. It is not fair or wise to expect people to give what they don’t have. If you expect performance at a certain level, then the people need to be equipped to perform at that level. They also need to be positioned in job roles that maximize and makes the best use of their strengths and unique skill set.
Training does not have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, where such very expensive and specialist trainings are involved, organizations can get employees to sign a training bond which mandates them to stay in the organization for a specified period of time that would ensure that the benefits of their training are fully maximized. Asides that, most trainings can be done in-house, either formally or informally. Job shadowing, job rotation, informal mentoring/coaching sessions are some of the informal ways to get training done. It is far more expensive to have an incompetent staff on the job, whose inefficiency can do considerable damage to the bottom line. Someone said “what if we train our employees and they leave”? And someone else said ‘what if we don’t train them and they stay?’ The implication of that statement is that it is far worse and definitely costlier to have untrained and unskilled staff esp.in crucial job roles. It negatively impacts the business, could cost you clients which will definitely affect your revenue and profit margins.
The huge question is:
How can organizations take advantage of the benefits of training without considering it so much as a cost but as a worthy investment?
- Create a T&D plan. Having a training & development plan ensures that training is deliberately and strategically planned for and fixed into the budget for the year. This reduces the reluctance or unwillingness to pay for training when the need arises.
- Articulate training needs early, both individual training needs and corporate training needs, and these training needs can be based on your corporate values or brand identity. E.g. you can determine that in a year, Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Team Building, Networking, Information Technology Skills etc. are skills that must be learnt throughout the organization, no matter the unit/department. Where you fail to plan, you have already planned to fail.
- Build in informal trainings as part of your culture. For your Team Meetings or Monday briefing, have a 30-minute talk, book review, presentation etc. on topics that ensure a skill is transferred continuously. It promotes a learning culture within the organization.
- Get individuals to be responsible for their personal development plans as well. Encourage them to learn a skill on their own, look for training opportunities they feel they might benefit from or look out for other opportunities that would equip them like professional events, industry events etc. where they will network and learn.
- Create a work environment that encourages continuous coaching and mentoring. It puts the responsibility on leaders in the organization to ensure that there is continuous knowledge transfer and learning in the organization.
The point is, do not make training an ‘after-thought’ or be ‘reactive’ about it. In other words, don’t wait until you are saddled with poor performers before you decide to train. It is easier to create a ‘learning organization’ than to overthink training and its attendant costs. Remember that any employee that is willing to stay, will stay, regardless. However, a learning organization is far better positioned on the competitive edge because such organizations attract and retain top talent, as well as produce high-performing employees that boost the bottom line.
Send me an email for your T&D Plan or for consulting on how to create a learning culture within the organization: email@example.com or Call +2349058247268.
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