Sandra Crous (Swanepoel), vice-president: midmarket Africa & Middle East at Sage, examines how companies can help employees with their personal development.
I wasn’t always a fast runner. The thought of running my first 10km was terrifying. But, by putting one foot in front of the other, I became faster, fitter and stronger.
Today, having run for more than 18 years and completing the Comrades Marathon, running has become much easier.
I’m passionate about personal development – in myself and others. When I joined VIP Payroll (now Sage) in 1989 it was still a start-up and it was nowhere near the leader in human resources and payroll solutions that it is today. But part of the reason it can now claim that title is because it prioritised team development at the starting line.
Training in fitness and training in business are vastly different but the principle is the same: when presented with an opportunity to reach your potential, it’s unlikely that you’ll pass it up.
It’s hard work getting through the start-up phase of a business. But once you do, and you enter the exciting scale-up phase – or growth phase – everything changes: your team, your supply chains, your processes and efficiencies. If you want to grow with confidence and scale up effectively, you need to put the growth of your team at the centre of your strategy.
I’ve written before about how investing in training can improve team performance and retention, result in happier customers, and help businesses comply with industry and labour laws.
Yet, I still hear two common training concerns from businesses:
* I don’t have budget; and
* I can’t risk losing my newly-trained colleagues.
I’ll tell you why you don’t need a massive training budget to reap the benefits of team development shortly. But first, let me ask you a question:
Would you rather risk losing colleagues who, as a result of the training you provided, are more engaged, more productive and feel valued in their positions, or risk becoming redundant in your market because your team is bored, apathetic and demotivated?
Successful businesses have an appetite for risk – and training is a smart, calculated risk.
In fact, engaged teams are 59% less likely to look for another job in the next year. By then, your investment – and risk – would have paid off in other ways: through increased productivity, for example.
And what business wouldn’t benefit from increased productivity in South Africa’s current economic climate? The irony is that the one thing that could achieve that efficiency is often the first to get the chop in tough financial times.
Here are a few ideas to train your team on a budget:
* Consider online courses. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) give you access to top-class training from the world’s leading universities and organisations, at attractive rates or even for free.
* Take training in-house. You probably already have a bunch of smart, talented individuals within your business. A structured internal training and mentorship programme lets those colleagues pass on their skills and knowledge to juniors.
* Open a library. Stock it with books on everything from leadership and sales, to technology and creativity. Encourage and reward your team for reading.
* Research SETA funding opportunities. Registering with your industry’s Sector Education and Training Authority has a number of benefits, including training grants and points towards your Black Economic Empowerment scorecard.
Here’s the thing about business growth: if you’re not learning something new or striving to improve on what you already know, growth is impossible.
Training should form the core of your business and personal growth strategy. It’s a never-ending marathon but the longer you run, the faster and fitter you’ll become.