Times are hard – let’s stop eating!
Of course, that’s a crazy idea. So why in business do we so often find almost a direct parallel?
Most people who have had anything to do with manufacturing in any form know that the first thing that generally gets cut in a down turn is training and development.
Why? Because it’s seen as a ‘nice to have’ and most companies reckon they can do without it.
In the very short term, that may be true; note the ‘maybe’
True, because things will seem to be normal. In fact there will be an important change almost immediately – a drop in morale, which many managers will not notice!
But who is in business for the short term? So we need to look at the longer term and see if there is any valid strategy for cutting back on the most vital resource for a business’s people.
Look what has happened to much of our manufacturing capability. Outsourced abroad. Clearly if it’s cheaper to do that then why wouldn’t you?
Why is it cheaper, though? Because, I believe, most British companies weren’t able to adapt and change quickly enough. Shareholders or senior management got fed up and the decision was made.
Change is a funny thing. If it’s our idea then we’ll do it but if it is seen to be inflicted on us, resistance is guaranteed. This leads us into the next thing:
You can’t impose change. People need to be facilitated to find their own solutions.
Engage with people, ask them where greater efficiencies should be made. This is the only way towards successful change and requires high levels of interpersonal and communications skills.
What’s good for business is the same outside for that matter. Without these skills it is very difficult to develop the relationships which are necessary to encourage people to pull together in times of hardship. These do need developing in people and not to bother is a highly risky option.
So, investing money in planned and structured people development, where benefits and performance improvements can be identified, is a good use of money, especially in difficult times.
By Jon Lavin