People: Costs, Competitive Advantages or Both?

So which is it? Are your people – or their paychecks, to be accurate – costs to be minimized, competitive assets to be developed and grown, or something in between? Henry Blodget wrote on this subject in a compelling opinion piece on LinkedIn this week. To paraphrase, his view is that looking at people as costs rather than assets is shortsighted and actually hurts in the long-term. The truth is somewhere in between.

Training and development investments need to be made intelligently and must be combined with an effective and consistent performance management process. Here are steps that we recommend you consider when thinking about training investments. Who gets additional training and who doesn’t?

First: All employees get the introductory training that they need to do the jobs for which they have been hired.

Second: Supervisors give them the coaching and feedback that they need to be motivated and make corrections as needed. They also identify employees who can do more.

Third: Strong, high potential employees are identified for advanced training. They are worth the investment. Poor performers are given the chance to improve, but be careful about investing heavily in those who might not give you the return on your training investment.

By creating a process and culture in which people know that advanced training is something to be earned, organizations can create a healthy performance-based environment. An added but less obvious benefit is that your poor performers might get the message when passed over for training opportunities and remove themselves, opening a spot for more suitable and engaged talent.

Your people are much more than costs to be minimized. The right ones can and will grow your business and help you exceed your goals if you invest in them. The key to success is using your resources (i.e., your training budget) wisely so that your team becomes a competitive advantage that justifies your training investment.

Learning Dynamics advises and helps clients develop and train leaders on executing performance management strategies and offers a comprehensive portfolio of employee training programs.    

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