Can Your Company Grow?

thumbnailCA4Z1XR6If 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.


The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat and Cure Your Training Department

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.


Pointless Training: The Consequences of Inadequate Training Strategies

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.

Why Training Needs to be Accountable

judgeIt’s all about metrics in whether money is spent on the training function, and any training manager that is trying to implement training because they “feel” it will benefit the organization is up a creek without a paddle before they begin. While HR used to always be the decision makers that decide if training will occur or not, in many organizations that decision is at the doorstep of the CFO.

When I realized I was talking to a wall this week when discussing the accountability of the training function, that wall being the HR Director, I asked if she was the ultimate decision maker for training, she laughed and said, “oh no that is the CFO. Nothing is spent around here without his blessing.” While I have begun to hear this more and more lately, I decided to test it out since I personally know this CFO.

I called him, and to my surprise he answered the phone, and after a little small talk, I asked him if he really did need to approve all training initiatives. He laughed too, and said he did require all expenses over a certain level to be cleared through him, because “very few people around here want to be accountable for their buying decisions.” Bingo!

I specifically discussed my conversation with the HR Manager, and the CFO understood the challenge of the training function, and has been considering cutting most if not all of training from next year’s budget. Why? Because training has never been accountable for results!

Gads! Could this be true?

But honestly, I was not surprised. Many training functions fail to see the need to be accountable for results until after the chopping block has eliminated their jobs.

Even companies that are making a ton of money don’t like to waste money. Training should be accountable, and if it cannot show a benefit, it probably is not the best performance solution. And while I hate to see the training function get eliminated from any organization, there are too many people in charge of training that cannot justify their existence and need to find new work.

If you feel you are headed to the chopping block, let’s talk before it is too late.