If the economic climate seems to be shifting in a way that would suggest now is the time to grow your operation, and you decide to bring down the checkered flag and announce growth plans for your company, can your company execute on that strategy?
I ask not because your people don’t desire to grow, but whether they have the necessary skills to make things happen. Is your talent development strategy been one that has regularly been building the competencies people need to perform their current jobs, and does it allow for rapid deployment for growth challenges?
First and foremost, if your training function has been reactive and running programs just to keep the lights on in the training room, you will have problems growing. If your training department operates without a training plan that models the strategy of the company, you have a weak learning organization that will prevent your ability to grow.
So if the health of your training function is in doubt, start by evaluating what is working and what is missing in a functional training department that returns on the current investment. Do not proceed to allocating any additional money to this function until you know how it is working today.
In the process of your evaluation, take note of the current training strategies and whether they are working for your adult learners. And, are you training everything that your employees need to perform their jobs well? I cannot stress enough that you want to look at what your employees need, not every skill known to man that could be trained. During this process you just may find you are training unnecessary skills just because “we have always done it that way.”
In all of the years I’ve been working with organizations that want to rebuild their learning functions, I have never found a lack of will. People want to provide quality training, and they have the right heart and spirit to work hard to make it happen. What they often lack is the knowledge of how to provide good training and learning transfer.
For companies that simply have not had a learning function, and see no value, there is not much to be done. Oh sure, you can preach the good news of learning, but your audience has no desire to hear your message. I have made it a personal hobby to keep track of these companies, and over time they simply disappear.
You see there is a basic similarity in every company. They all need human beings to make them function. Granted, not every task is performed by a human these days, but no company is without the human element. It boggles my mind when I see a company trying to survive, let alone grow, without training employees. Management in these organizations is focused only on the bottom line, and if someone can’t do the job they are fired and replaced. This process of firing and replacing goes on until the right person is found. Sadly this leadership style is prevalent and is why I see the lack of training in a company as a key indicator for applicants to consider before accepting an employment offer.
So if your company wants to open another location, hire more employees, acquire a competitor, ask yourself if your training function can facilitate this transaction. Do they have processes in place to train quickly and just the missing skills needed. Training an acquired competitor is different than a new hire with very different learning strategies. Does your training leadership know how to do what you need to grow?
Before you can take advantage of a shifting economy, I beg you to check in with the folks that can make your goals come true, or because they are not ready completely screw up your plans. Remember, they want to help you succeed, but they may not know how.