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  • Writer's pictureJohn Casey

Don't underestimate the power of training

In a previous role, I had the honour and pleasure of working with the team at Ulster University Business Institute to help design and then deliver the BSc (Hons) programme in Customer Contact Planning & Management. At the time my role was taking me away from L&D but as circumstances dictated it ended up reigniting a passion for working with others, passing on knowledge I have built up over the past 25 years, and most importantly helping others fulfil their true potential. For many of us, we may have chosen not to advance to University upon leaving school, but that doesn’t mean we are incapable and studying a topic related to your career, and often passion, can be a pleasure, open new doors through the knowledge gained and prove to ourselves and others that we are experts in our field.

I moved on from that role before circumstances brought me back to the academic arena and once again I have the please of working with students from many organisations across the UK and Ireland, and often further afield.

What it has opened my eyes to is that it is impossible to put a value on the rewards the individual and the organisation can benefit from taking advantage of a good learning programme – one with clear learning objectives and recognisable qualifications. This lifts the training beyond just being a few days out of the office. It forces the individual into a period of continuous learning, one which we would hope then becomes a career of continuous learning.

Modern day business is intense. Pressures seem to increase year on year. The need to do more with less is constant and compared to even 10 years ago we seem to be under pressure to achieve so much more in a limited time. In a competitive world that just seems to be the norm now. What that often means is that people don’t find the time to do formal training, or indeed to just take an hour a week for some informal development time. We are always under pressure to move to the next task. However that development may be more valuable over time.

When the programme launched, I remember one senior manager asking why his planners would need the qualification, as it would only make them more attractive to other businesses and they would leave. In the words of the famous Richard Branson quote, what will happen if we don’t develop them? My experience over the last few years of tracking graduates from the BSc programme is that recipients of quality investment, who get access to quality training are more likely to get promoted internally because of the skills gained than they are to jump ship and move elsewhere.

We all know of the 80% rule and it is my belief that it applies to the skills within our resource planning teams as well. Given that most of us are taught through side by side observation and mentoring, it is entirely plausible that only 80% at most of the knowledge needed is passed on. If that person subsequently trains the next starter in the department we are down to 64% and so on. Are we diluting knowledge by design? If people don’t get quality development opportunities how long until we dumb down the role of planning altogether? And what will that mean to the efficiency and effectiveness of our centres?

There are so many learning opportunities out there. Besides the formal training and qualifications offered by Ulster University, there are many conferences where people can learn from others. Some are even free such as PlanCon in October 2019. Many of the vendors and suppliers run webinars – again usually free of charge. My favourite are those run by Call Centre Helper as they are professionally chaired and have a wide range of expert speakers on a diverse range of topics. (I have to declare an interest here as I do appear on some of them).

I happened to be onsite with some students (in this case Team Leaders) this week – 3 months into a 12 month qualification. When asked their manager oozed praise on the change she is seeing. New approaches to coaching, displaying information to the team in new ways, a better consideration of the planning stages and their roles in it. In fact at one point I wondered what this team could achieve with 9 more months of supported, formal learning. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get the benefits of our team constantly changing the approach to the issues we face day to day, and turning issues into successes. We need to stop looking at L&D as a cost in terms of time and money, but rather an opportunity to bring benefits to the business.

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