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An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

Benjamin Franklin


Unfortunately, when I see businesses (large and small) make cutbacks, they often first start with cutting training programs.  It happens all the time.  We seem to value investment in almost everything else besides the human mind.  Even the U.S. spends far more money on defense instead of education.  And, our teachers, who, logically, should be (and often are) the cream of the crop and paid very well, are amongst the lowest-paid professionals.  This is very sad to me and seems to be very backwards for a society that is driven to make progress.  This is yet another example of priorities gone awry and short-term gratification winning over long-term thinking.

Have you heard these excuses before (or made them inside your own head)?

“We’re too busy to learn something new right now.”

“We just don’t have the money to pay for training.”

Fact #1 – Untrained People = Unhappy People

People who feel inadequate, underachieving, or unsupported are not happy about it.  They aren’t satisfied in their work, which will cause them to underperform, make mistakes, and not care about their work product.  That costs the business both in lost time and money.  Many leaders don’t seem to feel enough direct pain over it, because it’s hard to measure, and it’s hard to connect costs sometimes unless you are directly writing a check to pay for it.  But, it’s there, don’t deny it.  How do you feel when you go into something totally unprepared and lack confidence in what you’re doing?  Personally, I hate it.

Fact #2 – Untrained Team Members Have a Dismal Productivity Value

The quality of their work is low and is of low value.  The quality in performance is lower than it could (or should) be.  They can kill your reputation, brand, and following.

Fact #3 – Untrained = Inefficient and Prone to Mistakes

More time (and therefore money) and effort are spent when people aren’t fully or properly prepared to perform their tasks or to fulfill their responsibilities.  It takes them longer to do the work.

Fact #4 – The Effect Is Pervasive – Your Overall Expenses Will Increase

These are more difficult to track or attribute to untrained people, but they are there.  Creating a drawing incorrectly means reprinting the file.  That means it takes more time to fix the mistake, more materials cost in paper and ink, and more time rechecking the work. If it were done correctly the first time, these costs wouldn’t be there.  The added costs of poorly trained staff do not come in the form of line items, so they are often ignored or unseen.

Fact #5 – Insufficient Staff Training Means Lost Customers

Untrained staff can cause many of the mistakes listed above, and those mistakes and inefficiencies can cause your business to lose customers (or whomever your organization serves).  That is the worst possible scenario, but it can happen, and it does.

I certainly understand that there is a cost to training people.  But, having people with you that are properly educated and prepared can improve production, cut time spent in creation of your product (or service), reduce production costs, reduce mistakes, build confidence in your workforce, and create a better working environment.  Everyone wants to play on a winning team.  When everyone gets better, everyone gets better.

There’s little doubt that education and training lead to higher productivity and job satisfaction.  But, that begs the question as to why great leaders put so much value on it.  We have discussed the negative effects of ignoring the problem.  Now, let’s discuss the positive effects of embracing the training and development of the people in your organization.

First, it helps attract and keep great people.  Real estate is all about location, and business is all about people.  I will debate for that until the day I die.  Retaining people and keeping people motivated is a huge challenge for any leader.  So, is the hiring process.  I’ve heard that even the best of the best hiring processes still get it wrong at least 1 out of 3 times.

Second, it builds loyalty.  Loyal followers aren’t prone to quitting.  That’s what retention is all about.  Knowing that a leader genuinely cares about their education and development allows people to be confident that they are important.  Any organization that makes us feel this way will likely get our loyalty.

Third, it builds a strong, positive reputation.  Having a reputation as a strong leader who cares about people developing themselves — one who cares enough to provide time and cash resources for training — is great both for recruiting as well as how outsiders see you. You better believe that word gets out.

Fourth, it attracts people that value education and their own personal development!  Winning teams attract winners.  By offering training, continuing education, conference attendance, or even something as simple as a book allowance, with the understanding that you expect them to participate, you will attract people who are looking to better themselves.  That’s a person you want to join you in the mission!

Fifth, it creates people that can grow with the organization and take on more responsibility.  It is proven, time after time, that promoting from within is always a better option, when available.

Who else is more familiar with your culture and mission?  Bringing in people at higher levels from the outside is risky.  Never do that unless you have to.  The way to mitigate that develops people to grow with the organization.  Prepare them for the future and the skills they will need tomorrow so that they can fill the needs of the organization in the future.  

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  Matthew 4:23

This passage is a very simple and clear way to describe Jesus’ time on Earth.  And, it’s a pretty safe jump to say that Jesus’ number one priority was education.  Even after he healed people, he spoke to them about their attitude/behavior.  He connected their spirituality with their physical well-being.  It’s pretty clear that Jesus knew that developing his followers was paramount to the mission.

Dan Lucas
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