It was once said that when an economy slows, becomes tough or goes north, the first casualty in corporate organizations is corporate training programs, then staff.
On staff reduction, Brian Usher says that ".... 30 years of research and experience have taught that layoffs as a 'recessionary measure' often have an adverse effect and can actually prohibit or prolong recovery. Layoffs.......can prompt demoralized survivors and key talent to disengage or even to quit. In combination with a host of other unintended consequences, a company is left with an unexpected talent shortage that can impede sought-after efficiencies and the ability to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage."
The operative phrase here is "...ability to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage" in times of recessions. The only means to achieve a competitive advantage is through knowledge. Knowledge of competitive strengths in products, USP, market, competition, strategy, competencies, etc.
Reduction in or stoppage of human capital development (which is the focus of this article) as a consequence of tough economic times is a proven wrong strategy. If anything training programs should ideally increase in recessionary times. When the tree gets tougher, the sharpening of the axe should ideally increase, has always been a key maxim.
Training programs is not a culture amongst companies in the South East; not even regulatory and mandatory trainings. Some organizations would rather seek to compromise regulators than impart their most critical asset-staff with such skills. I am often amused when organizations complain of attitudinal issues from staff members which leads to low productivity, poor customer management, low sales and invariably, poor renumeration.
Research clearly shows that there is a correlation between a performing economy and the conscious efforts and desire for human capital development. Lagos, Porthacourt, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano and a few others are partly key economies for this reason. Have you queried why blue chip organizations concentrate more on sending their staff on continuous reinforcement training programs both locally and internationally? It is simply on realization of the need for regular updates on competencies required to play in this global economy.
There are usually many excuses why trainings are downplayed here. It is either not budgeted for or scarcely implemented even if done. Trainings are time wasting or too expensive. They guarantee no results. One of the worst is the possibility of staff leaving after trainings. And i ask; what if they are not trained and customers leave? Which of the two guarantees quicker closure of business? Other times, what if they are trained and they refer other quality people to the company having understood the culture. I usually maintain that organizations that have a vision and culture should not fret over staff attrition. Staff traffic make for fresh ideas, cultural dynamism and new vistas. Funny enough, funds presumed to have been saved through non trainings is twice or more lost through corrections and taking longer routes to resolve avoidable blunders and costly mistakes.
Corporate trainings and human capital development is the process through which employees acquire the capabilities, knowledge and skills to perform their jobs better. Training is profoundly strategic. Nothing affects corporate performance and customer loyalty more than the behaviors and competencies of employees. Training is the most effective way to communicate correct behaviors and competencies that oils the wheel of organizational success. At its core, training is very straightforward: Figure out what competencies are required for personnel to effectively function maximally and take action to address gaps in competency. A properly trained employee is far more productive than an untrained and uninformed employee. Good managers know this to be true and do everything they can to see that their employees are given the tools they need to do their job. Those tools include not just new hire training, but also follow up and continuing training as needed by existing staff.
The global competition on social media, information overload, power of telecommunication and virtual markets create imperatives for constant skills upgrade. There are new levels, fresh paradigms, latest models and changing times that require currency. How well teams or businesses perform often depends on how well staff are trained and developed.
Too often, companies limit training and development to new hires and to people moving into new roles. This is a mistake, because ongoing training helps people adjust to changing job requirements. It also creates a pool of qualified and available people, who are ready to step into new roles as the organization needs them. This process helps develop a more effective, efficient, productive, and motivated workforce.
At the minimum, training programs encourage reinforcement of values. Skills are perfected through constant repetition and reminders. A corporate culture and visionary strategy is easier developed brought corporate trainings. It is proven that higher levels of staff retention is witnessed in organizations with human capital development culture. There is obvious confidence building through product knowledge, corporate ethics, competition, strategy, marketing focus, macro economic environment, new models, vistas and data, operational efficiencies, etc. It also facilitates knowledge-sharing and notes-comparing. It builds loyalty. Most importantly, it readies staff for higher responsibilities and promotions.
I end with this old illustrative story titled, The Woodcutter's Axe:
Once upon a time a very strong woodcutter asked for a job from a timber merchant, and he got it. The pay was really good and so were the work conditions and for that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.
His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was to work and the first day, the woodcutter cut down 18 trees.
'Congratulations,' the boss said. 'Continue that way!'
Very motivated for the boss' words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he only could cut down 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he only could cut down 10 trees. Day after day he was cutting less and less trees.
'I must be losing my strength,' the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
'When was the last time you sharpened your axe?' the boss asked.
'Sharpen! I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut down trees.'
Sometimes we get so busy that we don't take time to "sharpen the axe."
Train your employees periodically.