Jul 19, 201601:41 PMMind Your Business
with Corey Chambas
Are you planting seeds for growth within your organization?
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I marvel at old trees. Especially the giant oaks we have around the Madison area. I’m lucky because I get to see them in the country when I’m out biking and also when I’m walking around town.
I understand that trees grow naturally out in the woods where I bike, but in the city someone likely planted them. They obviously were taking a long view of things, planting a tiny sapling that would mature long after they were gone. Some people do that when they move into a new house, envisioning a big shade tree thinking just maybe they’ll live there long enough to see it mature (we’ve been in our house over 26 years now — so it can happen!). It’s work now that will only pay off in the long run.
It’s the same when it comes to investing in your employees. For a long-term payback it is critical to invest in training and development in the short run. I’m not talking about sending someone who works with spreadsheets a lot to Excel training — that’s simply for near-term payback via increased productivity. I’m talking about investing in the development of high-potential future leaders. The payback in this case may not be for many years down the line.
Oftentimes the actual area to focus that development on can be counterintuitive. It may even be having someone work on developing a skill or ability that they can’t even put into practice right now. It’s not sales training for a great sales person who might someday be a sales leader — it’s more likely focused around something like people management or leadership. Using an assessment tool and 360s can help determine what these gaps might be.
Development can be done with offsite seminars or classes, but as an organization grows at some point you can bring some of this in house. Three years ago, First Business reached a point where we hired a director of talent development to proactively focus on training and development across the organization. But that’s only part of the investment, as all managers and senior leaders have to be heavily involved as well. I’ve often said a manager’s most important responsibility is to help his or her direct reports be successful. Therefore, we have also done significant training and education for that group so they have the background and tools to effectively work on development with their teams. I believe this overall work around talent development is the most important activity going on right now at First Business as relates to ensuring our long-term success.