Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Five reasons for developing your employees

I am sure you have heard the one about the CFO who was lamenting to the CEO about the cost of investing in employee development. He said, "I'm having a hard time spending this money. What if we invest in employee training and then they leave?" The CEO responds, "What if we don't and they stay?"
Hopefully you are more like the CEO in the story above. However, I have heard enough similar comments over the years to realize that not all managers are committed to employee development, so let me offer five reasons why I believe employee development is worth the investment.
1) Increased skill equals increased productivity. There is no doubt that people who have mastered specific skills are faster than their novice counterparts. Exercising your employees skills, both hard edge and soft edge skills, are going to pay dividends in productivity. We all know how much more time it takes for us to do things that are not our strengths. We should help our employees to focus on continuing to improve their skills in their areas of strength. The result will be increased satisfaction with their work, higher quality, and increased productivity.
2) Personally investing in people generates loyalty. Perhaps this is easier to believe in its negative form: You will not create loyal team members if you fail to personally invest in them. Nearly all of your team members are motivated by opportunities to grow. Fortunately, not all of your staff aspire to the corner office, but they all want to know they are delivering value. Viewpoints that see the future as unpredictable and unstable, previously held primarily by Millennials now permeating throughout the workforce. However, investing in these younger workers will have a positive impact on their opinions of your organization. In fact, training is likely to be the one thing that can help your younger team members stick with your organization. Since they feel their future is entirely of their own making, strengthening and improving their skills is a key driver for many workers.
3) Your organization needs people ready to step into new roles. Whether or not you have invested heavily in building a distinct culture in your organization, I guarantee there is one. It might not be all you wish it to be, but it is there none-the-less, and people who have learned to navigate your culture to get things done are team members you want to keep. There is nothing more critical than helping your staff increase their ability to get things done and those who can consistently deliver on objectives deserve to be given more responsibility and opportunities for growth. If you fail to invest in your staff, then it is unlikely you will have team members ready to step in when openings invariably occur. Let me also point out that bringing new key leaders into the organization from the outside becomes increasingly costly and risky the higher their level of responsibility.
4) Investing in employees cost less than hiring from the outside. If you are not a manager, you probably won't like hearing this, but the reality is that organizations often must pay more to hire a person with advanced skills and experience than it cost to develop these people internally. In fact, if you regularly utilize search firms to find candidates, a good idea for most organizations, the basic cost of these services are more often than not higher than what you would spend to help your employees gain the skills and knowledge needed to perform in these senior roles.
5) EQ can be developed! While most evidence indicated that Intelligent Quotient (IQ) is fixed by sometime in the teenage years, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not. Sure, the adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks might be something we like to say, the reality is this doesn't apply to humans. When I hear a manager express dissatisfaction about a member of their team, I am always amazed to learn that they haven't addressed these concerns directly. You must really dislike someone to know how they can improve their performance and refuse to tell them. That's the same as refusing to throw a life preserver to someone drowning. Your staff can be better, and they will be better, if you are willing to invest in their development.
Don't let your organization be like the one envisioned by the CEO above. Invest in your people and just as a rising tide lifts all boats, your team will do the same for your business.