People performance

People performance

Left hand, right hand – The catch 22 of people development and performance

I sometimes think that organisations are lost in a bit of a death spiral. On one hand there seems to be a reluctance to invest in the people that work in the business. It is too expensive, the return is questionable, they leave. Or memories of a poor training course where the outcome was a bit sketchy. So understandably many organisations only focus on the mandatory or most important elements. We’ll get by, seems to be the mantra.

At the same time, the human resources department at that same firm are busy trying to recruit staff. Nobody seems to what to join the firm, in-fact holding onto people seems to be a constant struggle. They’ve tried recruitment campaigns, offered starting bonuses, they’ve even painted the canteen, but to no avail.

When the employees are asked why they are leaving it is because there are no development opportunities, no career prospects. The firm does not want to invest in them, so why should they stay. In-fact according to a survey from Penna 2/3 of employees say a lack of career development with their current employer would be enough to make them start looking for a new job. (1)

On a very simple level productivity is impacted. Employees are at best disengaged, at worst demotivated. They do what they have to. But shock horror this is not what the company newsletter says, ‘our people our best asset,’ it proudly proclaims. Something seems a little iffy here.

If people really were the best asset in the business, the culture would encourage and support updating skills for new processes/roles but also skills to make the work more effective. Why do elite athletes train? To get better. If we take the time to improve capabilities we create an environment where productivity rises. If employees think they are being supported to improve this raises engagement and as the process evolves it starts to identify hidden talent. Interestingly only 41% of employees in the UK believe employers are providing them with the skills they needed for work in the future. (2)

Sadly, the other hand is still at work in the present. There is a belief that we need to provide the bare minimum, people can just pick things up and that once we are working there is no need to improve. There are some uncomfortable truths here which range from disinterest of employees, reflecting how they are being treated, to stress and wellbeing concerns when people are moved to roles they are not able to do, to productivity taking a battering as there is no culture of continuous improvement.

But, as Captain Mannering famously once said, ‘’don’t panic.’’ This catch 22 can be broken. Any investment in developing your people can be funded through reduced recruitment, sickness and poor productivity costs. Also in the vain of good continuous improvement it should start gradual and small. Kicking off with a training needs analysis to identify what are the most immediate capability and problems faced by the firm. Ranging from not enough production staff with sufficient knowledge to freeing up a front-line supervisor because more of the day to day problems can be handled by the employees on a production line. Both have a direct impact on productivity and engagement. In a recent manufacturing survey 65% of employees interviewed would like better training to improve their company’s overall efficiency. (3)

This is a tough nut to crack, but as soon as the improvements can be seen e.g. less retention problems and more efficiency the time and resources allocated can be justified. Just demonstrating a commitment to a culture of this type speaks volumes.

By building a range of fundamental human skills e.g. critical thinking, lateral thinking and problem solving employees can both improve their existing productivity but also be empowered to be more capable at taking on extra tasks. Interestingly 86% of employees and executives cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. (4) Too often decisions have a choke hold of one or two people, when there is an entire workforce which with the right support is more than able and willing to take these functions on. This frees up middle and senior management for more value-added tasks.

Either people are your most important asset or they are not. If they are a sensible and targeted approach to people development proves this. It is a clear sign to those in and outside of what your culture stands for. What’s more providing skills to either better complete a current role or add a degree of agility ensures you are more future proof and provide the career opportunities employees crave. Firms complain that employees can’t think for themselves, but then provide no incentive or reward to do so.

Sara Penrose Ltd we recognise that performance is directly related to people development. Our focus is to equip employees with the skills to transform performance and achieve business objectives centred around quality, efficiency and growth. We work with forward thinking companies who recognise just how important people are as a resource and want to optimise their capability through skill development. We discover what our clients business objectives are, then train our clients teams with the skills to achieve. This not only improves performance it also ensures a motivated and engaged workforce.

So, if you want to break the catch 22 people development and performance and realise the capabilities of your teams

  1. Penna, April 2020
  2. PWC
  3. The Future of the Metalworking Sector Report – 2022 – Fein Industrial Power Tools.
  4. Salesforce

John Henderson – Co-founder and Director

Sara Penrose Ltd

Optimising performance through skill development

© Sara Penrose Ltd 2023

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