While your company may have a solid foundation and all the pillars of a strong infrastructure to grow the business, most small and mid-sized companies are missing one essential function. Even in larger companies this function may exist, but the employees you have in place are in way over their heads for being a growth oriented business partner.
No matter what you do, you hire human beings as employees. These human beings come from different generations with different skill sets and different interpretations of how to work toward common goals. To make this more of a challenge most organizations have managers and leaders that lack good communication skills. And lately more organizations are operating with supervisors and managers that don’t understand how their own employee policies work and are putting the company in serious legal peril.
If you have a robust Human Resource function, with qualified talent, AND management follows their directions you have a fighting chance. But if you have a clueless management team as it relates to basics like Wage & Hour laws, what Harassment Free Workplaces look like, or Discrimination, you leave your HR function in a state of perpetual firefighting instead of being strategic.
The Primary Essential Function for Growth
Within human resources lies the one essential function that can either partner with the organization for growth or in most cases hinder the ability to grow. That function is Talent (AKA) Training Development. The very folks that need to develop all of the skills in others to perform work; rarely if ever do their own job well. Sadly it is not for a lack of will as I have discovered over the years, but a simply lack of knowing how. They don’t have the skills to act strategically. Many trainers and training managers focus only on a workshop or online class at a time. Few are able to prepare an influx of new employees because of a hiring surge, or and acquisition.
In the banking industry as an example, only the big banks spend time and money developing their training team members, and so when the bank decides to open new locations or acquire another bank, they pull it off in grand style. But most of the growth that is going on this way is coming from mid-size to small banks, and if they even have a training function, it is understaffed and those in charge don’t know how to do their jobs to the full extent necessary.
Qualified VS Experienced
In order to be Qualified, you know both about and have the ability to perform tasks. Now while being experienced may mean you are qualified, it also means that you have held the title of a function for a long time. Many training development people are experienced in only “time in the chair”. They have been the manager for 10 years, and are thought to be both qualified and experienced. But in reality they don’t know how to do everything they should be able to do after 10 years on the job.
Can Your Company Grow?
I cringe every time I speak with a senior leader that is looking forward to growing their business, and I know that their training function cannot help them. At best they will design a workshop and make it look like they are participating in the growth process. At worse they clog up the process and drag out what could have been a smooth transition.
Once I get these same senior leaders to investigate the capabilities of their training function, they realize that they are not as ready to grow as they first thought. I usually begin by having them request a copy of the annual training plan, which if it exists at all, is light and fluffy and lacks any tie back to the corporate goals. If a training function is this reactive it cannot possibly partner effectively with organizational growth goals.
I designed a process (and even published two books) on how to evaluate the corporate training function with the goals of making it work properly. But it takes some tough love from management to look at the results and make changes to the training operation.
In too many companies there is a lack of basic skills in all of their employee population causing a revolving door of new employees. Yet until companies start to staff Human Resources and Training with Qualified employees and not just experienced people, the problems will never disappear.