I have often heard some people in business say something like: training and development of people is a waste of precious company time and money. Therefore there is no need to spend hard earned money on it. Another view is that our business does not need someone from outside with no knowledge of our operations and industry to tell us how we should do our jobs.
Both views are wrong on two counts. First, training and development is not a waste of money but an investment into a critical asset of the business. Secondly ongoing development of employees is a critical differentiator of sustainable success in business.
Forbes has reported that company spending on training and development is on the rise with over US$130 billion spent worldwide in 2013 by some of the most successful businesses. If big businesses have realised the importance of training and development, I think it is time small to medium businesses also pay sufficient attention to this area, if they want to be successful in the long term.
Ongoing training can never be a waste of time and resources because it helps the business to:
- Stay abreast of industry changes
- Keep up with the latest technology
- Improve efficiency and productivity
- Stay ahead of the competition
- Improve employee skills and
- Provide job satisfaction
Dismissing development because we cannot learn anything from an industry outsider can be likened to a soccer or rugby team that says we are the experts of our sport and therefore no one from another discipline can teach us anything. We all know that statement is simply not true. Some of the most successful sports teams of our sports team in soccer, rugby and others, employ dieticians, psychologists, life coaches to help develop the team and individuals to perform at an even higher level. Some of these experts have no intimate knowledge of the sporting code. They don’t need to. Their role is to help build a holistic individual who understands themselves and their capacity to perform better.
In most cases, businesses are quick to dismiss training and development because they do not make a distinction between the two. I believe that it is that lack of understanding of the different purposes of training versus development, which negatively influences some businesses, particularly SMMEs to neglect them.
Purpose of Training versus Development
The primary purpose of training is to equip an individual with the appropriate skills and capabilities, so that they can perform a given or specific task. For example, training can be given to machine operators to improve safety and quality during a production or manufacturing process. The receptionist in a small to medium business can be trained to answer the phone correctly in line with the company’s brand values, while a sales representative can be trained to ask for the order at the end of the negotiation.
Development on the other hand seeks to help individuals to cultivate appropriate attitudes and behaviours, in order to perform their roles more effectively. In some cases, development helps to bring an awareness of the impact of their attitudes and behaviours in their relationships, and how these can either be changed or improved. The end goal is to help them to become better and effective people and or leaders, able to lead themselves and others in complex relationships in different environments.
Although training and development have different aims, they are both necessary for a business or organisation. This is because both are critical in helping a business to grow in a sustainable manner.