We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Mon 25 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Money-spinning assessment

Nick Pearson, MD of Pearson Consulting argues that multiples should measure the impact of training and development correctly.

Nick Pearson, MD of Pearson Consulting argues that multiples should measure the impact of training and development correctly.

How well served is the FMCG industry in the GCC region in terms of T&D provision?

With the phenomenal pace of growth and development in this region, particularly in the UAE, it is easy to forget that this is still very much a developing market in many ways and the FMCG industry is part of that.

The reason many companies consider it [training] as a cost is due to two or three key problems with the training they provide to their employees.

The huge retention issues faced by many companies are the direct result of a shortage of skilled people which results in employees job-hopping on average every two years as a better offer is made to them. Unless action is taken to improve capability, this situation is unlikely to change.

This clearly creates the conditions for training to have a major impact on improving the situation. However, in our field of expertise, whilst the availability of generic, field-level sales training is good, there is still a large gap in the local provision of customised, senior level programmes with the majority of multinational and large local companies still forced to fly providers in from overseas at significant additional cost.

Not that good training is not worth paying for, but often when the cost of bringing someone in is more than the cost of the workshop itself companies reluctantly decide not to go ahead.

The good news is that things are changing. Pearson Consulting and a couple of other global companies are now offering bespoke programmes from a local base, providing international quality without the non-productive on-costs. This is good for the local FMCG industry since it will hopefully allow more companies to up-skill their sales management teams and at the same time retain key employees who might otherwise have moved on.

Is T&D a cost or an investment?

It should always be seen as an investment. As a training provider, you would probably expect me to say this but I held exactly the same view when I was responsible for developing and implementing global sales training initiatives for a leading multinational company.

The reason many companies consider it as a cost is due to two or three key problems with the training they provide to their employees. In some cases, it is the wrong training, unnecessary, or badly thought out, and no apparent value is perceived by the delegate or the sponsor.

Failure to establish action plans and measurable outcomes after a training initiative is another common issue - training is seen as a self-contained end in itself. We have developed tools to help our clients measure the impact of training and understand the ROI from every initiative we partner in.

Formal, paid-for training should be used sparingly and should only be undertaken when there is a clearly identified need and objective to be satisfied.

Who is responsible for ensuring staff have the right skills and experience to perform their job function?

Whilst the HR function should play a co-ordinating role in training and capability matters, in my view it is the responsibility of the line manager and/or functional head to plan what is required for his team. The individual himself should also take ownership of his personal development if he really wants to progress in the organization.

One of the important services a training provider should offer is help with identifying exactly where the skill and experience gaps lie in an organization.

The difficulty that many senior managers have is in retaining objectivity when it comes to assessing their people and also in having a broad enough view of what is available in the market. We always insist on spending time with both management and the sales force of any client we plan to partner with in order to allow us to create a fully optimised development proposal.

Can T&D act as a tool for retaining key retail staff?

A: Attracting and retaining staff is the major organisational challenge in the Middle East, according to a HR survey we carried out last year, and it would be great if training could help in this important area. I believe that it can but that it still needs to be used correctly and directed towards the right areas.

I have never been a believer in using training to "keep people happy". Some companies believe that by sending their staff on a multitude of workshops they can paper over the other cracks on their HR processes and gain loyalty. This is quite a short-term benefit in my experience since the individual will have no hesitation in jumping ship once a better offer arises.

I believe that training interventions should always be targeted at specific skill and capability needs in the individual or team. When employed correctly, training can have a massive impact on productivity and secure significant competitive advantage in the market. A by-product of this will usually be enhanced motivation and loyalty to the organization.

The difference here is that the loyalty is being created in a positive manner and is far more likely to keep key employees from looking elsewhere.

How can retailers measure the benefits of T&D initiatives?

Training can change behaviour in a positive way and improve performance and results in the job role.

If training materials are too generic, there is always a danger that delegates find the workshop irrelevant to them and switch off. This often results in a wasted opportunity and rarely delivers a positive behaviour change.

After attending our Negotiation Skills program, a client might choose to target a reduction in unconditional trade investment with key customers. There are always other factors which influence the business, but measuring change in the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can really help organisations to gauge the value of quality, focused training.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.