Invest in training for competitive advantage

Nick Pattison

Nick Pattison

Non-executive director and Board adviser

I don’t know why it is, but as soon as the word ‘training’ appears, many people switch off. I suppose it conjures images of sitting in front of rather boring speaker thinking what you could be doing if only you weren’t sitting there.

We have all experienced that of course, but training need not be like that. Indeed, it should not be. If only more companies recognised the value of good training, rather than the cost of training, they might just invest in it and, in doing so, achieve a potentially strong competitive advantage.

Many companies, particularly those in the oil and gas industry do indeed have training programmes, but they tend to relate to skill development. Valuable and necessary in itself but that is only part of the story.

Where many companies seem to be most deficient is in developmental training. Just because someone has not attained a particularly high level of educational achievement and is stuck somewhere near the bottom of the company hierarchy, it does not mean that person is not capable of so much more. If you talk to that person and listen hard to what they say, you should be able to understand more about what motivates that individual and what his/her interests are. Why not dangle a few ideas in front of them and watch them react? Is that driver a potential IT expert? Don’t laugh. He could be if only he had the opportunity. This discussion usually takes place at the time of the annual appraisal, but then of course many companies do not do annual appraisals, particularly of their more junior staff. They should. Why not offer them a short course in something which might stimulate them or bring them into a meeting where they might not usually be and see if they take away something from it? At the very worst that person will become a more motivated employee because someone has demonstrated an interest in him or her. At best, you have found someone you can promote from within the company to do a valuable job. Either way you gain and they gain.

I get very depressed when companies have long service ceremonies for their staff and congratulate someone for having been a driver for ten years. The manager should be sacked and great sympathy shown for the driver! How can you possibly leave someone in the same job for ten years? He is probably only there because it gives him a safe income. He will certainly feel little loyalty towards his company and if a better offer were to come along, he would undoubtedly move. Turnover in many companies tends to be relatively high. That is often the reason why.

So, appoint a training manager, train for success by bringing out everyone’s full potential, and just watch your company profits grow.

Invest in training for competitive advantage
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