Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Growing Skills for Growing Businesses

Yes, I know. There’s a recession on. So EVERY newspaper, radio station, TV channel and website keeps telling me. Save here. Cut there. In this column, I too have been banging on about keeping costs down…blah, blah, blah!

Alongside marketing, the other thing I wouldn’t cut back on though is keeping good colleagues and getting them ready for that eventful day when we’re told that now recession is officially over.

Far too often, one of the first things to go during cut-backs is the training budget. Sending colleagues off on expensive training courses and keeping that extra pair of hands off the shop-floor is a no-no if you’ve cut colleagues numbers to the bone. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

I’m a firm believer in making sure a business looks after its people. And I don’t just mean its customers. After your own family, the people that work in the business are probably the most important people in your lives. They’re the ones generating YOUR cash, keeping YOUR customers happy, presenting the public face of YOUR company. But ask yourself one really important question……are my colleagues really happy?

Keeping them happy doesn’t just mean paying them more cash. More often than not it’s about recognising the good work they’ve done, having regular, two-way conversations with them either in short team meetings or on longer one-to-one basis makes it a comfortable way to review their performance and progress and helps fine tune the business. At BDSBC, we have a team meeting every Friday morning (with the obligatory cakes and doughnuts, of course!) and every week we fine-tune the way we do stuff to make sure we work smarter and not harder; that the way we work is better for us, better for our colleagues at HQ and more importantly, better for you, our valued clients.

Often from these meetings, individual issues are picked up that need a bit of extra one-to-one coaching so we try our hardest to sort these immediately to make all our lives a lot easier and coming to work more enjoyable!

My working week is pretty long and I probably spend more time with my staff than I do with my own family during that week (sometimes a relief as I do have teenage twins at home !), so I want to make sure that I have fun at work and I enjoy what I do. Working with clients to help them start-up, survive and grow during the current climate is very challenging and often very intense so it’s comforting to know that during some of the “downtime” you have at work, you’re working with happy colleagues.

Happy colleagues are often more driven colleagues and as a result they hopefully become more profitable for you. Investing time and effort in the colleagues you value, brings value so consider how you could train and develop these colleagues to make a real difference in your business.

If you are going to send colleagues on training course though, make sure they’re relevant to your business. There no point in sending someone off on a bookkeeping course if their marketing specialists. Any money invested in training has to be just that….an investment. It must bring you a return.

Nowadays, there are some very good bite-sized courses available at your local colleges of Further or Adult Education and its definitely worth checking them out to see what they can offer. Train to Gain, the Governments FREE skills development programme is also worth checking out. Every day, nearly 1.5 million people go to work without the skills they need to do their jobs well. Train to Gain can help you invest in skills, giving your colleagues the ability, confidence and motivation to deliver real business results.

And there’s another thing, while business is a little quieter, thing about how you can invest in yourself. We can all become a bit complacent at work but remember, think about investing in the people working ON the business and not just IN it. Who do I mean? Why YOU of course !!

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