Employees Are Critical To Long Term Small Business Success

Training functions own arguably one of the most important roles in business – getting the best from their people. In business terms, the chief learning officers leads the ‘end-to-end’ people processes, yet, still this group can be hard-pressed for their functions to be regarded as a ‘business essential’.

Andy Lothian is Chief Executive of Insights Learning and Development. Positioned in dual roles as CEO and Head of People for a global learning and development company, Insights, he knows how vital it is for today’s C-suite to realize the importance of investing in people.

Here are a few areas he believes will help build into business cases:

  1. Let the data speak for you: Every training function needs to be able to use clear metrics to provide quantitative data on the outcomes of learning programs. This type of credible data validates the importance of investing in people and allows people functions to move into trusted business advisory roles. Business expert, Peter Drucker, famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” By using hard data to substantiate the value of soft skills, training functions can begin to tell their story with confidence and evidence.
  2. Underpin strategic priorities with people projects:Any type of development initiative can have value to employees, but it is only talent development programs that are intrinsically tied to strategic business goals that can yield organizational success. To get the green-light from the C-suite, CLOs must be able to connect development initiatives with business priorities. In his work published by Harvard Business Review in 1998 titled “A New Mandate for Human Resources,” author and professor Dave Ulrich said, “HR should not be defined by what it does but by what it delivers – results that enrich the organization’s value to customers, investors and employees.”
  3. Make an offer they can’t refuse:Lastly, and potentially most importantly, training leaders need to brush up on their audience and make the C-suite an offer they can’t refuse. This means they have to present training information and tell the people story in the way executives are looking for – essentially, making it easy for them to get on board. Author and founder of HR Capital Source Jac Fitz-enz said, “Talent managers’ ability to maximize HR’s value is now married to their ability to talk in understandable terms. It’s more than just running your service. It’s making a financial contribution to your organization. If HR doesn’t add financial value, it has a limited future.”

Most managers would first think of competitors or economic changes as the biggest risks to their business, but it’s arguable the biggest risk to business success occurs when people development is not considered a business essential. People investment, training and development in today’s business landscape is not just an HR interest, but rather, an opportunity that should be shared by all business leaders. Training leaders must not only focus on moving the needle on the value of soft skills, but positioning the function as an enabler of business success by showing human capital is equal to – or more important than – financial capital.

Andy Lothian is President and Head of People for Insights Learning and Development a successful global development company.