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Glimmer Blog
Jun 26

Written by: peterm
26/06/2010 8:19 AM 

Stuart Ridley, Yvette Nielson
8 February 2010

Is your current team smart enough to take your company further? Stuart Ridley and Yvette Neilson examine the age-old dilemma: should you train up talented people or buy in the expertise you need?
Standing at the helm of a fast-moving, fast-growing company is exciting, no doubt about it. The faster and bigger you get, the bigger and better the challenges you can take on. In theory.

The reality is a little sobering: the team that got you where you are today isn't necessarily geared up and clued up for the challenges of tomorrow. So how do you make sure you have the best possible team on board at every growth stage: hire or train?
How much time do you have?

If you need to react quickly, as a general rule it's easier to hire in the new skills you need. If, however, you have more time to react, it's usually better to develop the skills and knowledge of your loyal employees first so they can grow with the company.

Buy vs build?
Anastasia Ellerby, managing director of Infohrm Group, explains that companies often need to hire in specialist professional roles or to top up their talent.

"Hiring versus training is not a binary issue," she notes. "It requires a blended approach. Growing your own talent gives your company a competitive advantage. Research shows that internal promotion, for example, provides a greater return on investment than hiring in."
John Banks, director of Talent2, says the decision to hire or train depends on the individual training needs and development of current staff.

"Essentially it is necessary to do both: hire in skills and ensure thorough training of existing staff to keep the business fresh with new thoughts and ideas."

Why should staff learn?
More money and better working hours are high on almost every employee's list of wants. However, meeting these terms isn't enough to keep good people working with you.

"It ain't just about money - it's all about job fit these days!" says Hippocrates. He notes that professional development, training and share incentive schemes are all increasingly popular rewards for modern workers.

Training as a reward? Indeed. Olivier suggests employers need to find each employee's trigger point and work on it. "Most people want to improve their lot in some way - whether it be sense of achievement, professional pride, job satisfaction, money," he explains.

Banks points out that career development is a huge incentive - bigger than money - because it's a solid investment for employee and employer. A recent Talent2 survey of 2,661 employees revealed that 89.7% would prefer to stay with their current employer if they were offered training and development courses to help them further their career. Employees saw this as their employers making a strong commitment and investment.

"Listen to your staff and their ambitions," he says.

"Analyse if that works for you as an employer and then place that employee in a position where they feel they are coming to work and making a strong contribution. The engagement has to work for both parties."

The final word: train!
As our industry experts are all quick to point out, unless you desperately need to fill a number of skilled vacancies tomorrow, you can best achieve long-term growth with a loyal, well-trained team.

"Developing people is perhaps the most rewarding thing an employer can do," points out Hippocrates, "People stay loyal to the company way beyond their time if the balance is right. You can win an ally for life and that can work on a whole range of levels."

While extensive training may prove too big a challenge for frenzied small businesses, Ellerby believes some of the challenge can be addressed internally.

"It is critical for business owners who can't send their staff on training to think creatively about leveraging the skills of other people in their business for mentoring and coaching," she says.

"Careful research will uncover plenty of free public seminars and training. And business owners must not underrate the value of affordable public education as well as self-directed learning.

"Utilise partnerships with suppliers and customers for job swaps or secondments, which will build a greater breadth of understanding in the employee about the full life cycle of the end-to-end business."

"Provide training and sure, some staff are going to leave anyway," muses Olivier. "But if you don't provide any training and development many more will leave - and they'll leave sooner!"

"Developing people is perhaps the most rewarding thing an employer can do - people stay loyal to the company way beyond their time if the balance is right; you can win an ally for life"

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The right timing
When to hire:

••Early expansion phases and any subsequent fast-growth phase in response to market opportunities that simply can't wait
•Short product lifecycles in fast moving markets - to keep up with market trends and changes - and you lack time to build up the skills of existing workers
•Introducing new technology or processes - this requires a mix of experience in the previous methods or technologies and next-generation thinking.

When to train:
•Gradual growth phases - you have identified goals and opportunities a long way out
•Slow or long product lifecycles, particularly when you can influence the pace of innovation
•Major expansion into new markets - you need leaders and managers who understand your business and can provide strong representation of your company and you can't afford to risk your company reputation in a new market with untested people
•Retention of experienced workers with company-specific knowledge and skills - these loyal workers are going to be the hardest to replace. #

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