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Training: Why It Has To Be At The Top Of Your People Agenda

If you ever wonder why your organization should invest time and money in training, then these 7 reasons should convince you.

1. Integration. Integrating people into the organization was the original purpose of training. You trained employees so that they could continue the systems, purpose, and procedures of the organization. Take the Roman Empire, for instance. “The Roman Empire grew so large and survived so long because there was no car, no radio, no papers, and no phone. You appointed your governor to run a province, fully trained him at headquarters before he went, and then sent him off to run it.” (Antony Jay). In many big organizations, integration is still the number one reason for training people.

2. Beating the Competition. Today, just knowing how the organization functions isn’t enough to ensure its survival and that of the people in it. When faced by intense competition, employees who are well-informed, well-skilled, and highly committed become the chief reason for an organization’s success. As former head of General Motors, Jack Welch, said, “An organisation’s ability to learn, and to translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

3. Developing Assets. It is only in the last few decades that people have woken up to the fact that their employees are their most valuable asset. When that asset is developed, it becomes more valuable to the organization as well as the employees. A study by Robert Zemsky and Susan Sharman of the University of Pennsylvania found that a 10% increase in training spend resulted in an 8.5% increase in productivity. A similar increase in capital expenditure resulted in only a 3.8% increase in productivity. In other words, training pays.

4. Performance. It is strange that, while we would never accept that a top-class athlete, doctor or circus performer could ever achieve high standards without training, we so often ignore training in the workplace. We argue that we don’t have time to train, or the means to do it, or that nothing changes afterwards. But, if it can work in every other profession, why not in the workplace? After all, would you want to be operated on by an untrained surgeon?

5. Change. The rapid changes of recent years have transformed the way we view training at work. Where once it was something given to the unskilled and under-performing by specialist departments, now it is an essential for everyone. "Whereas in former years an organisation could expect reasonable periods of technological stability between waves of change, today in more and more industries, one change rapidly follows another. The purpose of training is to help people develop skills not only for today's technology but for tomorrow's and the day after's. Learning has to be continuous for everyone because organisations face continual change in products, services, processes, markets, competition and technology." ("Training for new technology")

6. Practice. One of the most important aspects of training is that it allows people to get things right for when it really matters. In his book “Global Challenge”, Humphrey Walters describes how his yacht crew prepared for the BT round-the-world race with an intensive period of training. When their yacht hit the Southern Indian Ocean, disaster struck: one of the crew went overboard. The rest of the crew had just 4 minutes to save him. Their pre-race training meant they knew exactly what to do. Without the training, he would have certainly drowned.

7. Developing Excellence. We are all born with talents and gifts which nobody else quite possesses as we do. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people either live in total ignorance of their potential or fail to develop it. When professional developers discover people’s unique potential, nurture it, build on it, develop it, and release it, they do far more than help those people perform. They create excellence. “Luciano Pavarotti, arguably the greatest tenor in the world, was an average singer in the boys’ choir at school. But, by studying, practicing, and rigorous training, he became a peak performance of excellence.” (Charles Garfield) Without training and development, an organization today is likely to struggle to beat the competition, achieve high levels of productivity, or keep its best workers. Put training at the top of your people agenda, and your success is almost guaranteed.


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