Let’s NOT train our staff so they’ll get picked off for better jobs

Are providing enough training and development to keep your employees engaged?


I was conducting our Speaker Program on retention titled “You’re the Person I WANT to Keep” and we were at the section on discussing how training and development is a powerful element of employee satisfaction and engagement.

One of the CEOs in the room blurts out “Why should we train our people – we’re just preparing them to be stolen by our competitors”

I was so stunned at this remark, I was for once at a loss for words. Then, an even bigger shocker took place: Some of the other CEOs in the room actually started nodding their heads in agreement.

What have to come to where we are so afraid of our employees leaving, that we're willing to lock them in the basement, put our thumb down on top of them, and crush their future capability?

Is this perspective dysfunctional or what?

NOT training your employees is a sure way to lose them. NOT providing opportunities for learning, development, and personal growth is one of the major reasons 50% of your workforce is logging onto job boards trying to see if the grass is greener somewhere else.

Training the heck out of your workforce is one of the best ways to “recruiter-proof” your company. I know you’ll lose a few people over time to competitors; however, you’ll keep a far larger group.

Perhaps, most importantly, the value training brings extends far beyond just keeping people. Your workforce becomes more skilled, knowledgeable, and capable than all your competitors. Productivity goes up. I can’t begin to quantify the value of a well-trained workforce.

What’s your training investment? How much of every revenue dollar goes to training? Does every employee have a personal development plan for formal training, e-courses, webinars, projects, on-the-job skill training?

When you are planning on making training one of the core elements of your culture?

Barry Deutsch

Using A Personality Assessment Can Be Helpful

Q. Our company is considering using personality or behavioral testing prior to hiring people. What has been your experience with using these?

I’m a strong believer in using some sort of assessment prior to hiring someone, especially for key employees. These assessments can add a lot of valuable insight about the candidate. Not all assessments measure the same thing, so it is important to know what it is you want to assess. There are general assessments, ones specific to functional areas such as sales, ones that measure intelligence, many assess a person’s communication style, and still others target specific aspects of the candidate’s personality and behaviors. Selecting the right assessment for what you want to measure is critical.

It is also important to have enough peer level people take the same assessment to use as a benchmark. An assessment that shows how the candidate stacks up against the others is very useful information. Over time the assessment will reveal the traits of those hires that are successful and those that didn’t work out. Identifying the traits of both is important when assessing the candidate.

Want some tips on attracting top talent? Download the chapter from our book, You're NOT The Person I Hired, on sourcing. CLICK HERE to download this chapter.

Want to assess your hiring process? Download our FREE 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard. How does your company rank on these critical points? CLICK HERE to download.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. If you liked this article and found it helpful, please forward it to others.

Brad Remillard

If you’re looking for a job – don’t apply here.

One of the things I've noticed when working with successful business owners and executive leaders in large corporations is that they know who to hire. They look for certain characteristics in the person they put on the team. One of the first things they try to determine (once the skills are out of the way) is whether or not the person is hunting for a job or a position of responsibility.

If the candidate is looking for a job, they don't go any further with the interview. If the candidate indicates that what motivates them and gets them up every day is a position with responsibility for which they are held accountable, then the interview continues in earnest, with success factors and lots of questions. The open ended questions will focus on how to figure out if the candidate takes responsibility for the consequences of her/his decisions. “What was the single biggest failure you've experienced professionally and what did you learn?” “Can you provide an example of  how you made an uniformed decision and then went back to correct it to take the project down a new path?” “Give me an example of how you allowed hard data analysis to override your instinct when making a business decision.” The candidate had better be prepared to give substantial examples that can be verified.

As you might guess, the person asking these questions isn't looking for someone who is simply wanting to come in, do what s/he is told, let others take responsibility and go home at five. Nor is the hiring manager looking for someone who always sees outside forces or internal bureaucracy as getting in the way or causing failure. No, this manager or executive is not hiring someone for a job. Instead, they are looking for a person who takes responsibility; one who analyzes situations and is willing to look at data with fresh eyes. This manager is likely building a team that isn't afraid of admitting mistakes, pointing out areas for improvement, or being the bearer of “bad news.” They are looking for a professional.

Let's look at the other side. If I am a candidate who thrives on being in a position of responsibility, believe in being held accountable, and believe in being “data driven,” then I would want an interview to proceed as outlined above. If the hiring manager isn't asking questions that lead me to believe they are looking for a professional, then I might take the initiative to ask some of the questions myself. I'd be very tempted to ask, “How will you know that the candidate you hire is successful?” What would you expect to be accomplished in the first three months and how will you measure it?” “How would you describe the culture of accountability in your organization?” If the manager fumbles the answers to these questions, this is not a cultural match for me and I may want to move on. That's a very difficult decision, especially in these times. However, to settle for a job when you are looking for responsibility and a career position is going to hurt you in the long run.

Readers of this blog will not find too much surprising in this post. Yet, I see hiring managers make the same mistakes over and over again. I also see senior executives taking jobs in a panic – they have bills to pay and a family to support. Here is where I see the problem manifest most often – hiring a salesperson or sales manager. Sales people have a built in aversion to accepting responsibility for failure. Now before you fill my in-basket with hate mail, let me admit that I have come up through the sales ranks and managed a multi-channel sales team at several companies. I found myself succumbing to the very mindset that I'm suggesting isn't healthy. There's a simple and understandable explanation for this stereotype of the salesperson (apologies for those of you who have figured this out and grown out of it). A salesperson always faces more rejection in the average day than many people face in a year. They have to build up a thick skin. They have to accept the rejection, BELIEVE that it isn't personal, and move on to the next opportunity. That understandable need tends to create a habit of looking outside of our own actions for the reasons for failure. We have to guard against that eventuality and admit that while understandable, it is not acceptable to ALWAYS assume the failure is not ours. As the hiring manager for a high functioning sales team, I found it very challenging to dig down and get to the point of “when are you accountable for the failure of a sales initiative or forecast”; both for my sales team (including myself) and with prospective candidates for the team. It turns out getting there was crucial for a successful hire.

So back to the beginning statement. If you're looking for a job (no responsibility, just put in the time, collect a paycheck and go home), don't apply here – even if the position is for the assembly line. If you're looking to take responsibility for your actions, hold yourself accountable and are willing to grow, then let's get started on what it will take to be successful. Be ready to give examples of how you've made mistakes, accepted the responsibility for them and learned from them. Be ready to demonstrate how you are open to various views of and conclusions derived from the same data. If you're successful, we will be building a highly functional and exciting team. In my book, that's better than a job any day. Even in this horrible market.

Hiring sales people is difficult for everyone. We just launched our Sales Recruiting Division to help companies with this issue. As the economy turns, good sales people will be harder to find and even harder to identify. CLICK HERE to get a Free Success Factor Snapshot for your sales position.

For more information on hiring top talent, read our best-selling book (0ver 10,000) You're NOT the Person I Hired. CLICK HERE to read reviews.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after business advisor and mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Initiating and managing change

People speak a lot about change these days. As you read this, you are exhaling atoms of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen that just an instant before were locked up in solid matter; your stomach, liver, heart, lungs, and brain are vanishing into thin air, being replaced as quickly and endlessly as they are being broken down. The human skin replaces itself once a month, the stomach lining every five days, the liver every six weeks, and the skeleton every three months. To the naked eye, these organs look the same from moment to moment, but they are always in flux. By the end of a year, 98 percent of the atoms in your body will have been exchanged for new ones. Literally, you are not the same person from year to year. Why then, amidst all this change, do we often seek to eradicate changes in our lives, our organizations, our business processes, and in our environment?

Buddy, can you spare the change?

No, you cannot spare the change and neither can your organization! You are in fact changing and your organization will also change. You and it will change or you will die and even death is a process of change. And in today’s modern business world, to focus on the business issues, the pace of change has accelerated to the point of almost blinding speed. It continues to accelerate.

We all know that this is the case, and we all know that it is technology that is driving the acceleration of change. Advances in communication have made our world one global market. We face competition from the same global markets in which we seek the lowest cost labor for our own products. Many of our customers and employees purchase products and work to design products and services from the comfort of their homes. Information (and disinformation) is readily available to all who have access to the internet, and in the industrialized nations of the world, a majority of the people have gained that access one way or another.

We also know that disruptive technology provides leaps in competing products which totally transform the markets in which we move. The classic example is that of the buggy-whip. While focused on making the best buggy-whip in the world, the manufacturer does not see that automobiles will soon obviate the need for buggy-whips. The whole market disappears. Personal computers have totally changed the corporate information system market and have gone on to fuel the changes in how we as individuals use information and communicate in our personal lives. To not anticipate these disruptive technologies, or at least recognize and respond to their impact, is to invite corporate obsolescence.

Why do we fight change?

While intellectually we all know that change is inevitable, that there is no such thing as security or stability, we often have a difficult time accepting that things must change. My experience is that as long as someone perceives that a forthcoming change will increase their authority in the organization, they will embrace the change. If the perception is that authority or power will be lost due to a change, then all stops are pulled to avoid the proposed changes. Rarely do employees willingly make a personal sacrifice in stature, authority, or power for the general good of the organization.

Sometimes the opposition to change may be due to change overload. Perhaps an employee is dealing with an overwhelming amount of change in his or her personal life; children moving away to school, divorce or simply dealing with relationship strains at home, illness in the family. Under these circumstances, employees may well look to the workplace as the only point of stability in their lives. They spend fifty percent of their waking hours at work, and if everything else is in turmoil, they want desperately to have work be the haven from change.

Institutionalizing Change

As if it isn’t enough to deal with the outside forces of technology and globalization of markets, we now have to deal with the institutionalization of change within our corporations. Management initiatives such as Six Sigma and the ISO9000 programs demand continuous improvement. It’s impossible to imagine improvement without some level of change. Relentless pressure to increase human productivity demands changes in our business and management practices even if we determine that our products and markets are well defined and viable.

The essence of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is alive and well today. The name, BPR, has been misappropriated for those who would simply downsize their organizations. Yet the original intent of a careful study, measurement, and radical reorganization of a company is still employed today; we just call it something else! Leadership teams have also recognized the need to make continuous incremental rather than radical changes for many of our business processes. Regardless of how we make the changes, change we must if we are to survive and thrive.

Shaping the Corporate Culture

How well change is managed in an organization depends on the skills of the leadership team. Not only do they need to understand the organization and the requisite changes, but they must understand their employee’s capacity for change and the capacity of the organization itself to support and promote changes.

Mr. Michael Mussallem, Chairman and CEO of Edwards Lifesciences, often speaks of “actively managing the corporate culture.” Part of the company credo is that; “We will celebrate our successes, thrive on discovery, and continually expand our boundaries.” Continually expanding boundaries implies not only technological but organizational change. To actively manage the corporate culture means not only ensuring that the corporate ethics is understood and managed as a process, but that the leadership team affirms and promotes an environment that encourages individual responsibility and a capacity to change the business processes.

So are you ready to embrace change when it comes or are you one who “fights” the changes? What is the culture of your company with respect to change? Do you fit in?

Take a quick assessment of your company's culture and see if it fights change. Have all your key managers take this same assessment. Then evaluate and discuss the differences. CLICK HERE to download a free culture assessment.

Change starts with an effective hiring process. You must have the right people on the bus. This 8 Point Hiring Methodology Assessment tool will help you build a hiring methodology in your company that attracts top talent. CLICK HERE to download your free assessment.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.