As Chairman of BOLT Learning – a company which empowers employees through great online learning - I am constantly aware of customer service, training and company's views on investing in people.
Today, BOLT Learning hosted a breakfast event, ‘Why staff development is crucial to companies,’ where I was invited to discuss my own experiences in this area with a group of business executives.
Throughout my career, I have studied employees in the workplace in terms of performance, confidence and motivation.
In my twenties I worked at SPAR where I had the opportunity to learn some interesting attitudes towards ‘average’ performance. John Irish, former chairman of SPAR, famously said that ‘average is the bottom of the top, the top of the bottom, the cream of the crap.’ Whilst there is nothing wrong with being average, it’s not where one should aspire to be and I noted the importance in motivating people to accept nothing less than the best they can be.
My interest into our behaviour was spurred on further by my interest in behavioural research and behavioural science, particularly the findings of BJ Fogg, who was an influential researcher and the head of Behavioural Studies at Stanford University. Fogg’s findings described human beings as innately, ‘lazy, habitual and social.’ In short, we are lazy in the sense that we will always use what we believe to be the easiest or quickest route.
At a conference which I was speaking at, I had the opportunity to listen to Kip Tindell, an inspirational business tycoon and the CEO of ‘The Container Store.’ Tindell had a great understanding of the vital role of people within a business. He described that one great person equalled three average people in terms of loyalty, ability, trust and output. Furthermore, one average person equalled three poor performers on the same scale. Many employees don’t live up to the representation of themselves which is described on a CV – which could largely be due to a lack of training. Rather than simply investing in more staff, consider your existing staff and consider how you can invest in them to improve the output and productivity of the business from the same headcount (or, if you employ more GREAT people, a much lower headcount).
These thought leaders influenced my presentation at BOLT’s event, particularly in terms of their approach to training. In order to train people well, we need to understand people first. Some companies haven’t adapted their training methods and materials in over 30 years – yet the world and its people have changed massively. In order to look after your people, investing in training is crucial in order to enable them to work to their full potential and create greater value for your business.