“What’s worse than training your staff and then losing them? Not training them and keeping them!”
Some time ago, at a conference where I was speaking about the importance of training at all levels of organisations, a businessman put up his hand and said:
“Our main problem as businesspeople, especially in my business which is an SME, is that we find it hard to train our staff, because not only do we have to train them all, but then they ‘grow’ and leave us for another company.”
Obviously I understood where he was coming from, and I replied with the first sentence above. I really think that a company, however small, has to make the effort to train its people – I’m not sure if all in the same way, for questions of resources (you can’t expect everyone in your company to have an MBA, especially in SMEs), but you do have to train your best people, including senior managers.
I also understand that training means an employee, manager, etc. can live longer than the organisation that employs them and that they themselves become a product.
I will not slip into the obvious temptation of saying that training and learning is good because everyone knows that. But I would like to point out a few things:
- The distance between the leader of an organisation and the rest is a constant. The higher the leader, the higher the rest. How can you get a leader to rise? Among other things, through training.
- If you, as a manager, are a long way ahead and people cannot keep up with you, then your organisation will not be successful. Ergo, it is essential to train your people to follow you.
- The only people who strive to make progress in the way you do and move as fast as you are likely to be other leaders… who are identified and empowered through training.
- Looking at the above points from another perspective; if the rest of the organisation rises, the leader has to maintain that constant even more, and is therefore obliged to train as the “mass” is pushing them up. Otherwise, as happens to the businessman in our example, “they grow” and leave…
As Peter Drucker would put it, training generates knowledge, and knowledge is added value. Consequently, a “knowledge worker” is an asset. The duty of management is to preserve the company’s assets and identify knowledge workers as opposed to “manual” workers. Hence the duty of management to create, attract and retain those assets which are produced precisely through training.
And lest what happened to the businessman in our example should happen to you and employees leave the company, management needs to know that what motivates a knowledge worker above all else is a challenge, because it is through this challenge that they can bring into play their means of production (i.e. their knowledge), which is in fact generated by, among other things, training.
In a nutshell, management’s main role in terms of its staff is to train and educate people so that they can grow together, making their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.
Therefore, and in short, a company’s management is critical and decisive.