Every year hundreds of studies/surveys reinforce the belief that developing soft skills is an essential ingredient contributing to the success of an organization. Surprisingly, the SME sector which employs 45% of the workforce in the UAE is on the edge with the argument. Do we wait till we grow to train our people or train them now so that we grow?
Training is not effective. Classroom Training is theory, what happens in the practical business is way different from what is preached in the classroom, training is for big companies with extra money. Besides even if they want to learn something new, they have the University of Google at the finger tips; 24 hours!!! – few of the arguments from people on one side of the fence.
As long as employees know what they need to, in order to do what they should be, most employers are fine. Developing technical skills of people make them great operators and while that sounds great, it does not usually make them effective managers or leaders, which is critical for sustaining and growing any business.
Motivating their teams (big or small) to constantly perform at their best to achieve great results does not come naturally to most people. I think everyone knows that doing business is often about personal relationships. Not surprising then that building a personal relationship with people is essential to the final outcome in business. Investing a little money and time on developing behavioral skills of employees can genuinely pay rich dividends in the most pleasantly surprising ways.
Our recent engagement with an SME in Dubai gave us wonderful feedback on how a session on ‘Crucial Conversations’ got a few of their employees communicating differently with a client. The
unexpected mode of communication helped them diffuse tensions during negotiation and they saved over 100000 AED annually!!
That brings me to the next set who think training all their employees on one single skill once a year will be enough to make a difference. A misstep many businesses take and it usually turns them off from investing in training again. Even in these times of instant gratification, any change especially behavioral change takes time. To expect that people will give up their long standing habits to pick up new ones because they have been told so is irrational. Continued focus and periodic reinforcement is mandatory for change and that is why ‘a once in a year one session for everybody’ is as good as nothing.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Said Zig Ziglar and I couldn’t agree more.
Having said that, I am in no way equating reinforcement means more training sessions on the same thing. The topic can be a discussion at employee-manager reviews or result area in an employee’s performance review. My experience taught me, the best way to make something relevant to someone is to make it all about them! Employees almost never get a chance to step out of their functional roles and focus on their developmental goals with an SME, so make the session and reinforcement be about them. It will present them with a great opportunity to step out of their daily routine and allow them a little self-reflection. Self-reflection plays a dynamic role when it comes to self-improvement and from the sessions we’ve run, employees love it! An employer willing to invest in their development is huge motivation for employees and goes a long way in maintaining loyalty.
With SMEs employing almost half of the workforce in the UAE (45%), the untapped potential of people as your most powerful is unimaginable. With Expo 2020 looming large and the growing demand for products and services; it is the perfect time to create a niche, to build a brand, to innovate and to service. There is only one factor running through all of that – your people! The outcomes may not be instant, however, the eventual benefits are more than worth it not just for the individual but for the overall business. So what is it for you; train or not to train?