Never Stop Investing in Your People

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In a case of classic “glass half empty vs. glass half full” thinking, this imaginary conversation between a CEO and CFO stopped me dead in my tracks yesterday. I ran across it on LinkedIn and it struck me in a profound way. How sad, but true, that too many organizations have used the current business downturn as an excuse to stop investing in their people. Now, more than ever, companies should be looking to build upon the knowledge base and talent they have to strengthen and grow their organizations for the future.

Early in my career, there were certain pedigrees that one would kill to have on their resume. To be an IBM- or Xerox-trained salesperson meant you were classically trained in the fundamentals of Professsional Selling Skills. The tenets of these courses have built the training empires of organizations like Achieve Global, Learning International and Miller-Heimen. In the CPG world, to cut your teeth selling soap for Procter and Gamble, blue box Mac and cheese for Kraft or Corn Flakes for Kellogg’s earns similar respect. These organizations all earned a reputation for aggressively hiring young college graduates, training them well and working them hard and only retaining the best of the best. Across every field and discipline, the modern version of IBM, the P&G’s and their peers stand tall as the most sought-after firms to earn your stripes and learn the core fundamentals to ground your career.

Every industry has their undisputed leader and, within that organization, is an unwavering commitment and philosophy to professional development.

It is a shame that many of today’s organization’s have convinced themselves that training and professional development is dispensable. They allow other budget lines and business issues to take priority over the investment in people. Their leadership has falsely convinced themselves that they cannot afford the investment spending required to hone and sharpen the skills of their team and people. They rely on yesterday’s spending and lean disproportionately on the capabilities of the few to carry the many. It is short term thinking that, more often than not, leads good organizations down dangerous paths.

A true leader is someone who
does not only produce results
and show efficiency in what he does
but is also one who replicates himself
by developing his people.
–Myron Sta Ana

As the year ends and you are thinking not only about what you accomplished in 2013, but what you want to achieve in 2014, make sure you have placed a priority on learning. We all must take inventory of our professional skills and capabilities. We need to do an honest assessment of where are strengths lie, where we are challenged and identify the specific areas we must focus more attention on.

As managers, we need to do these assessments for our people and be prepared to assist them in closing the skill gaps we identify. As employees, it is fair to expect an honest assessment and resources to support our professional career development. Success in the workplace is a collaborative and mutual relationship that requires honesty, communication and support.

Giving our time and attention to making our lives better, and bettering the lives and careers of those we manage, is all a part of the responsibilities and benefits of having an outrageously wonderful life.

Don’t make the mistake of looking at the glass half full and missing out on the benefits of seeing good people develop into great people…or seeing great people leave your organization!

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