By: Scott Howe – November 2015
I’ve been in executive meetings where the performance of the company is being discussed. There are KPIs being bounded around here and there accompanying discussion about why the organisation is underperforming. I then ask the group “what development opportunities do you afford your staff?” This is either followed, or preceded by “do the staff know what the company KPIs are?”
I’m never shocked at the answers as the very reason they are having the discussion about underperformance is due to the lack of training and development opportunities they give/mandate for their staff.
They seemingly find it hard to join together the output of the business with the professional and personal development and investment of their staff. The engagement of the staff in the output of the company is key, so keeping them in the dark about the business KPIs is nonsensical. Joining everything together takes some grey matter.
Field Marshal Rommel expressed the view that the best form of welfare is training.
‘As the rehearsal for operations, training is where all manner of foundations are laid: professional competence, the culture of organisations and innovative approaches through experimentation. Most of all, training is where teams develop trust and comradeship.’
During the establishment of an organisation a company must consider how it is going to stay competitive in the market. One of the easiest ways to do this, but one that is sometimes paid lip service to, is staff training and development. Without training, a business will never be as competitive as it could, or should be. But training must be well thought through and implemented.
I have worked with an organisation in the past that had a centralised training team mostly left to their own devices, which empowered them to work independently from the business. This ensured two things occurred: they decided the main effort and the direction of the training they facilitated, which had little to do with what the business was trying to achieve, or its direction.
Training is a vital component to any business and without it you remove the ability to make a business a high performing team. It enables your employees to be trusted, make timely decisions and allows the manager to give them freedom to complete tasks using their own initiative and creativity. This is what is called ‘Decentralised Leadership’.
As Field Marshal Slim noted of the 14th Army in 1956:
‘Commanders at all levels had to act more on their own; they were given greater latitude to work out their own plans to achieve what they knew was the Army Commander’s intention. In time they developed to a marked degree a flexibility of mind and a firmness of decision that enabled them to act swiftly to take advantage of sudden information or changing circumstances without reference to their superiors….[This] requires in the higher command a corresponding flexibility of mind, confidence in subordinates, and the power to make its intentions clear through the force’.
By ensuring the staff are fully trained they can be trusted to act within the boundaries set and taught to them during training cycles. This leads to quicker decision making, which enables companies to out manoeuvre competitors with often slower decision making cycles.
Training should not be on the ‘tick list’ of CEO’s. If a company’s training programme is developed properly and ensures personnel can perform their tasks and duties independently, it helps develop mutual understanding, and sets the conditions to achieve success by outperforming its competitors.
Surprising to me, there are organisations out there that feel training will encourage staff to become unruly. It’s almost as though if they provided training the staff would no longer need them. But surely if you created this environment you would also be creating a high performing team? As the staff improved, so to would the leaders. If the leaders improved, so too would the overall performance of the company? How can any company avoid the requirement for training?
Undertake a full Training Needs Analysis of your business as it could quite possibly be the best investment your company might make.
 Field Marshal Sir William Slim. Defeat into Victory, London; Cassell, 1956, pp. 541-542.
About the Author:
Since completing an 18 year career in Britain’s elite Royal Marines Commandos, Scott Howe has firmly established himself as one of Australia’s leading authorities on leadership and business transformation. A highly experienced business strategist who ‘operationalises’ business plans, he has extensive understanding of managing and delivering major transformation programs in both private and public sectors. In additional to these highly successful programs (including the unique ‘Commando Experience‘), Scott is a ‘C Suite’ mentor who appraises, counsels and rationalises ideas to realise business goals.
For more information on the solutions Scott provides and engaging his services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 746 287.
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