Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Article excerpt

Smart managers carry on with selective development, knowing that it helps the business.

Q: Following recent redundancies, I'm left with a young team who are in urgent need of development. But the MD insists we can't afford to pay for any training. How can I convince him?

A: All over the western world, organisations are shedding older, more experienced employees in favour of younger, cheaper ones. And, given how hard many young people are finding it to get a job, in some ways this is a good thing: it creates headroom, allows for progression and brings fresh eyes to look at old problems.

Of course, while suddenly having a lot more responsibility can be exciting, for newer recruits it can also be daunting, especially if promotion comes without specific development for their new roles. Perhaps they have picked up the rudiments of the task by observing their previous boss and have learned some of the good and bad ways of handling things from the way he operated.

However, if they never had the chance to step back and identify the gaps in their knowledge, experience and skills, and to understand some of the tools and techniques available to increase their effectiveness, they are destined to under-perform and repeat their mistakes. This can turn what looked like a smart way of saving money into a counterproductive exercise.

Wrong-headed as it may be, your MD can feel justified because he is acting on the widely held belief that in hard times the first thing that should be cut is the training budget, followed swiftly by the marketing budget. I know from experience that the really smart managers carry on with selective development activity, recognising that it helps the business and acts as a powerful retention tool for the best staff.

There are two routes to change your MD's mind on the subject of a training budget. One is based on the threat of the consequences of failing to do any development work, which can include incompetence in doing essential tasks, poor decision-making caused by lack of knowledge and the disaffection of employees - especially as they may already be feeling the effects of pay and bonus freezes.

That's the stick. The second way is more of a carrot - stress the benefits of engaging in relevant development activity, which include improved performance and job satisfaction and a greater preparedness to go the extra mile, thus increasing customer loyalty. …

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