Home Best Practices “Give up trying to grow the bottom line. Grow your people and your people will grow the bottom line.”

“Give up trying to grow the bottom line. Grow your people and your people will grow the bottom line.”

I was in a conversation recently with a guy who works for a technology company, and during the course of the conversation, the subject of “training” came up.  He said that his company has a training budget for their technicians, but not for their managers.  He said he knows this because he wanted to attend a management seminar, but the owner of the company denied his request.  When he pressed the owner about it, the owner said, “We don’t have any budget for management training.  We don’t believe in management training here.”

I was shocked.  Not shocked that his company doesn’t offer any management training because unfortunately, that’s a fairly commonplace condition in smaller companies.  But I was shocked that the owner would say it in such a casual, matter-of-fact way.  Obviously, this owner either doesn’t believe that managing takes much skill, or he believes that managers somehow manage well instinctively.  Either way, he’s wrong.

Management training isn’t and shouldn’t be the private preserve of large corporations.  Small companies might not have the resources to run big, formal programs, but with very little expense, they can still offer effective management training.  For instance, I know of a small company that has a book club composed of the CEO and his managers.  They agree on a business subject they want to explore, select a book on that subject, then spend an hour each week discussing a chapter.  The CEO doesn’t always lead the discussion.  He takes a turn, but so does everyone else in the group.  As a result, the management team gets excited about various business concepts, has a good learning experience, and bonds more firmly as a group.  And the only cost is for a few books.

I know a company owner who likes to hold “lunch and learns.”  He sets aside periodic lunch hours for his managers and orders in pizza or sandwiches.  He then invites someone from the outside to give a brief presentation followed by Q&A.  This outsider might be his banker, his lawyer, his CPA, or a whole host of other friends, colleagues, and acquaintances in his rolodex who have some business expertise to share with his managers.  And it only costs the price of a lunch.

Besides producing more highly trained managers, simple programs like these produce another valuable side benefit: lower management turnover.  People tend to stay longer in jobs where they feel they are learning and refining skills that will be useful to them in building their careers.

Small business owners often complain that they can’t afford management training, but usually they can.  Just because you don’t have the money for fancy executive seminars doesn’t mean you should just give up on management training.  As I’ve tried to illustrate above, there are lots of ways to deliver very effective, but inexpensive, management training.  It just takes a little creativity and a commitment to making your company a “learning place.”

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