This morning I was at a meeting for consultants. We were talking about another organization, called the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). This is an organization I used to belong to, that I’m thinking about possibly rejoining at some point in the future, but just haven’t been enthused lately.

The conversation got around to what some of the issues are. In essence, when I was first a part of the organization, at least half of the members of the group were human resource employees of their particular companies. Now, it seems that most of the members, at least in the local chapter, are independent trainers of some kind. And all are struggling to stay that way, as more and more independent trainers are finding jobs doing something other than training within organizations.

In yesterday’s post I lamented about weak managers and asked what anyone thinks they can do about it. As the long commenter on the post stated, pretty much nothing. Companies seem to have forgotten about the concept of hiring management or leadership trainers to come in and help give their management staff ideas on how to be fair and effective leaders.

I have to admit that stinks but it goes much further. What I’m also seeing is that companies aren’t paying for any training whatsoever. This means that if people need certifications to do whatever it is they do, they’re expected to pay for it themselves if they want to keep their jobs. They’re expected to pay to go find training and then pay for the exams. And management and administration, weak as it is, expects them to pass or to keep trying until they get it done, sometimes holding it over the employees head while not ponying up a single dime to assist them on their mandated quest.

Why has training been pushed to the back burner? My opinion is short sightedness. What I see are companies that look to mainly do one of two things; increase revenue and decrease expenses. That’s good business sense on the surface. However, often if you want improvement, you have to take the time to educate and then reeducate people so they can work at optimum performance and knowledge. Things change all the time both inside and outside the realm of organizations, and those that don’t figure it out are doomed to always be held back from reaching their true potential.

I’m not saying that as a potential trainer or consultant. I can say that as a former manager and director, aka daily employee as well. I remember a conversation about potential layoffs years ago when the CFO asked how many people in my billing department I could lay off. I said none, and he asked why. I said each billing person, of which there were only 5, was responsible for bringing between $750,000 and $1 million dollars a month into the facility. Our statistics showed we were at maximum efficiency, no fat. If even one of those people left it would cost the hospital that amount in actually cash, not revenue but pure cash. I pointed to an experiment I was forced to undergo at one time when I wasn’t allowed to replace one of those people and cash dropped considerably, and asked if he was willing to allow that to happen again.

Of course I got to keep my people, but it pointed out the fallacy that just because someone doesn’t generate revenue doesn’t mean they’re expendable. It also doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t devote any time to their training, something I always made sure to build into my yearly budget and stuck by. I felt it was important for people to learn something on their own without it always being filtered through my mind first. I always felt it was because of that belief that the people who worked for me were well trained and very efficient.

Companies need to decide whether they want to be good or great. They need to decide if the people working for them know how to perform their job as good as they can, whether it’s technical or in working with others. The bottom line really isn’t the bottom line until companies have truly explored whether everything they’re doing is the best it can be done; without training, they’ll never truly know.

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