Enhancing skills and ROI
Pieter Scholtz, business coach and South Africa’s co-master licensee for ActionCOACH, explains how to ensure the best possible return on investment (ROI) for your business when investing in skills enhancement.
Inhibiting your employees’ sense of purpose – in a static, go-nowhere environment – is a sure-fire way to obliterate any sense of team morale or job satisfaction. It’s the death knell for productivity and profitability. You feel compelled to grow your business; why shouldn’t your employees feel compelled to grow as individuals? There can be no better way to improve a business’s bottom line than to improve the skills of its employees.
Upskilling employees not only boosts productivity by instilling confidence, making employees less reliable on external resources and generally allowing for more work to be done, but promotes business growth and employee satisfaction. But what so many employers and entrepreneurs so often get wrong is the type of skill enhancement they focus on, ultimately achieving a poor ROI.
Business owners need to be strategic about training provision and focus on achieving tangible results. That’s why skills enhancement should always begin with a good induction for new employees, which goes a long way to establishing the right attitude and work ethic from the get-go. A formalised, structured induction will let employees know what is expected of them and establishes the short-term skills necessary to start working immediately.
Another fairly cost-effective but potentially beneficial consideration is to focus skills enhancement initiatives on an employee’s weaknesses, as opposed to concentrating on what they’re interested in or already good at. Employees will naturally educate themselves in the fields that interest them.
Working on their weaknesses and ironing out the pain points that inhibit optimal productivity means generating a potentially huge ROI. Solving problems by eliminating their cause rather than attending to the symptoms is far more productive and efficient.
Modern businesses are increasingly flexible, innovative and adjustable to meet new customer demands or, alternatively, disrupt the market with entirely new products or services. Rather than outsourcing those skills, incentivise employees who take on those new responsibilities with soft skills that might benefit their new position, then ultimately promote them to a permanent role.
There are other relatively inexpensive methods of skills transference worth considering. One-on-one mentoring, for example. It doesn’t even have to be a formal programme; just some time for experienced staff to provide feedback, assist with decision-making and direction, and offer general support and encouragement to juniors.
Perhaps the most effective solution to permanent skills enhancement is creating a workplace culture that encourages learning. It requires relatively little monetary investment; and it affords an optimal ROI.
Skills quickly become obsolete in the modern digital era, and front-loading your employees with an impressive list of skills, while certainly beneficial, is costly and may eventually prove pointless if they aren’t always put to use.
In the end, it’s all about effective communication – that you communicate with your staff as much as they want to communicate with you. That way you get a sense of what is required while they’re updated on what is expected and, together, you can fill in the holes with appropriate skills.