Why Should a Company Train Its Personnel? Part Two

L. Douglas Mault

January 2009

This is the second of two articles dealing with this key topic.

When people are trained, and know that the owners and top executives believe in and reinforce the value of the training, they become more efficient and effective. So, they complete projects or processes at lesser cost and/or they become more highly skilled so they produce better projects or products for which people will pay more. Either, or each, way adds value.

In addition, in our very competitive world, a business has to train people just to stay as successful as it is. And, to top it off, continuous improvement is the name of the game.

A company’s commitment to training its supervisors, managers and, for that matter, the entire work force is reflected in the product or service it provides. Your customers’ confidence is built on the consistency of your company’s performance, day in, day out, and this requires high standards of knowledge and dedication by all personnel, especially those in management, supervisory and key skill positions.

Why train people who might leave the company? This is the age-old and constant question any owner or senior executive asks. It deserves a clear answer.

Training is very often considered a drain on already tight budgets. In fact, some owners and senior managers adopt that very attitude: "Why train people to only have them leave and go to a competitor for a few cents more per hour?”

Here’s why: Training is essential in today’s competitive world to ensure a high quality project, product or service with fewer rejections, reworks or punch-list items, ergo, less waste, lower costs, improved staff motivation and reasonable comfort that all governmental, code, safety and insurance procedures are being followed.

No longer is the old technique of "Fred teaches Joe” sufficient. It may seem to be the cheapest option, but there is no way to check its effectiveness, and it often will lead to the continuation of bad and unsafe practices.

Research by Ron Zemke, a professor at the University of Minnesota, makes the strong case that failing to train people because they might leave is a bad decision on two counts.

First, better-trained employees perform better and receive fewer complaints from customers.

Second, the more training that is offered, the longer employees stay with the company—a particular enticement for those who are skill-portfolio-driven.

One common denominator among companies with reputations for providing high-quality products, projects or services is their bias for setting quality and service standards and their prodigious and ongoing measurement of how well those standards are met. This can only be accomplished by regular and recurrent training.

Finally, what is worse than training your people and losing them? The answer comes from Steve Baker, president and CEO of Baker Drywall, Ltd. in Dallas: "Not training them and keeping them.”

I wish I had come up with that.

L. Douglas Mault is president of Executive Advisory Institute, Portland, Ore. He can be reached at (888) 428.3331.