The one with a loss of appetite

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – cut the training budget, you won’t see a return on your investment for some time and its money better spent elsewhere….unless you would like to improve your business past next month and retain your people in which case you may want to think differently!

If you believe some people, the world is going to hell in a handcart. The decisions of Standard & Poors seem to have a bigger impact than those of our elected leaders and we seem to be lurching from one sub-crisis to another. The behaviour this seems to be driving is interesting, in that it seems to be bringing out the worst kind of short-term, micro managing, short-sighted demons and what impact that is having on employees everywhere can’t be measured but I would imagine insecurity is rife.

There was a tweet floating around some months ago (and don’t ask me where it started) but it went something like:

FD: What if we invest in our people and then they leave

CEO: But what if we don’t and they stay

As much as I’m sure it got a few chuckles at the time it does seem the business case against developing people (at least at an organisational level) is getting easier and easier to make with each passing day and whilst organisational appetite may have waned does that mean individual appetite has? [Rhetorical question!!]

With the amount of insecurity in the economy and with that in companies at the moment you could say the smart move was to protect an investment in development (and I am largely biased in this but bear with me….) because given the climate surely this is the time when organisations need the most commitment/loyalty/tenacity etc etc from their employees and given the financial constraints on ‘buying’ that surely this comes down to leadership?

Earlier this year I was talking to a friend who works in a large US owned business and she had just merged two teams. When I asked what activity had taken place to support the merging of the teams she looked uncomfortable and shared the fact that aside from electronic and 1 to 1 communication and two 1 hour meetings she had been unable to get further support and had been told “we don’t have time or money for team building at the moment”. That response (and hers is not the only business I’ve heard it from) leaves me asking these rhetorical questions:

  • Do you teams function better in a climate of insecurity?
  • Does lack of available investment mean your team automatically commit to each other and the organisation?
  • Do ways of working develop within a team by osmosis because they can’t spare half a day away from their desks?
  • Do the individuals within the team now magically understand their role in delivering the mission/vision/strategy?

Now as a person who works in HR it could be argued that I am blogging in praise of a gravy train. If that is what you think that is your opinion and you’re entitled to it but the next time you get the opportunity reflect on this thought: would a small amount of time/energy/money invested in your team or organisation make them more effective at weathering the storm we are all experiencing?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The one with a loss of appetite

  1. Margaret Burnside

    Pleased to be spending this Thursday facilitating a top team development event – an enlightened leader believes they are worth investing in after some significant people changes and in response to survey results around their internal customer’s views – external customer is very happy with what they do, they want their internal customers to be happier!

  2. I’ve made mention before that working in the digital industry is like living in a bubble separated from the rest of the world. We are experiencing growth in a time of extreme uncertainty and it is incredibly fascinating to be working in this space. At the same time as growing the headcount, the business itself is growing with mergers and acquisition activity. This bubble that we’re in, provides a very deluded vision of what it truly happening in the world.

    Always one to ensure that we’re not being complacent about this, I’m trying to help those conversations to happen as you’ve described. We’re not growing the L&D function, but I’m increasingly doing more facilitation-esque work which is to help teams talk to each other more.

    So I’m in agreement with you (unsurprisingly), that if I’m trying to do this in a specialised industry, all the other organisations and businesses who think they can’t support the changes their teams are experiencing, really need to see how it doesn’t have to be expensive at all. The capability to help conversations to happen is well within their reach and within their people – but with the blinkers on, they either don’t see it, or don’t want to see it. Keep calm and carry on.

  3. Can I say, ‘Yes, but?’

    Team building isn’t the job of L&D or the budget. It’s smack in the middle of the leader’s JD. Given the luxury of cash and time, I’m sure you could make things better for my team, Rob, but since I have neither I’ll do it myself and you know what? So I bloody well should. If they don’t understand their role in delivering mission/vision/strategy it ain’t nobody’s fault ‘cept the boss’.

  4. @Margaret
    Good to hear someone who is still thinking about it, hope it all goes well

    @Sukh
    Shocked that agree ๐Ÿ˜‰ and nice to hear that you are evolving what you are doing rather than just land grabbing for more cash/resource

    @Kevin
    Clearly a 3 weetabix morning Mr B! Of course you can ‘yes but’….but I feel like a chorister arguing with another member of the choir. The point I was attempting to make (and given your reaction I fear I may have failed) was that someone should be doing it whether that be leader or L&D I don’t really care because my view (one I imagine we share) that this is about organisational performance rather than accountability musical chairs or wooden dollars ๐Ÿ™‚

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