In 2010, I had the opportunity to interview for a Global Behavior Based Safety Director role in an organization that did around $8 billion in annual revenue and had approximately 30,000 employees scattered across about 80 facilities worldwide. At the risk of seeming arrogant, the interview process was basically a formality if I chose to accept the position since I had over-delivered in a similar role for their North American market for a few years leading up to the interview. One thing I did not have while filling the role for the facilities in the new world was the formal certification and licensing that would typically accompany someone delivering the training that I had been. I was, more or less, working under the authority of the gentleman who was in the global role, who had announced his plans to retire in early 2011. During the final interview, I told the company’s Global Health & Safety Director, who I would have been reporting directly to, that I wanted to complete the formal certification process if I accepted the position so I (and the company as a whole) would be compliant with the organization we were licensed with. His response was something like this: “Wes, that’s a really expensive process. I’ve put a few folks through that over the last couple of years and most of them have left the company.” By that point in my career, I had been listening to and reading John Maxwell’s content for almost 10 years. So I immediately responded to his answer by asking if he knew the only thing that was worse that paying for someone to be trained, then losing them as an employee. He did not. Who was I to keep this critical knowledge that I had heard John say so often from my potential boss…? “The ONLY thing worse than training someone and having them leave is not training them AND THEY STAY!!! Then you’re stuck with someone who isn’t trained!”
Even after that wise-crack, I was offered the position. While it certainly didn’t seem like it then, the salary he offered, which was about 25% less than the number he told me he thought was too low in the initial interview, was not only a deal-breaker but one of the 10 biggest blessings in my life to that point. I really enjoyed the work, but the position would have required me to travel about 3 weeks out of every month, much of which would have been outside the United States. I enjoy being married far too much for that nonsense!
So here’s the point: not only would that “expensive” certification likely have guaranteed him his first choice in the interview process, the INVESTMENT would have shown me that he was committed to supporting me in the role. And although I was already fairly effective in the work I had been doing for him in North America, there was plenty of material that I had not dealt with that the certification process would have prepared me for. There was no doubt in my mind that, sooner or later, I would run into multiple situations that I wouldn’t have been prepared to handle without that additional expertise.
But why does this matter to you? Have you ever had that same concern? What if I pay to get Joe trained then he accepts a position with another company, possibly even the competition??? I challenge you to think into this question: Can Joe offer the same level of service to your company or your customer if you don’t INVEST in his development? I’ll address how this kind of INVESTMENT in your employee impacts retention in another message. But for now, how much more buy-in and engagement are you likely to get from Joe as long as he’s with you just from simply showing that you believe enough in him that you’re willing to make that INVESTMENT in him and his career?
Now, as I mentioned in the previous writing, if the training and development you’re considering paying for doesn’t provide a tangible return for your organization, I doubt it’s something worth paying for even if Joe stays with you forever… But if it adds value to his performance while he’s there, does it really make sense to cap him at his current skill level?