When is it right to invest in your people?

I’ve come across a number of examples of young and small companies lately and have had discussions with them about when is it right to start developing their teams. And by that I mean when is it right to put money into developing people to improve performance and the way they work together to drive different, better or more results.

Developing people includes installing them properly, training and coaching them to achieve their desired outcomes, over a reasonable period of time. Small shifts in capability over a longer period of time will generate the results these businesses want.

So, when is it right to start developing your team? Each business will have to answer that for themselves of course. And, the answer really has to do with where they want to get to, in what amount of time and, in what way. Here’s a framework for how I look at determining when it’s right to invest in development of your people:

  • Businesses will have to have a hard look at the objectives they set for the business and be open about what they need to achieve them.

  • A medium term objective or goal that requires a stronger leader - start now - assess the leader, devise required outcomes, train and coach to success.

  • A department or team that has all the raw talent to achieve a medium or long term goal - start now - assess individuals, and the team, devise the required team outcomes, train where necessary and coach the team to success.

Notice that there are no short term outcomes for which this approach will work. It requires at least a medium term view to allow for development to really take place and take hold.

Notice too, that developing a full team or department must be driven and rewards applied to the higher level team or department goal. This will help drive commitment and accountability.

And finally, training + coaching (whether provided internally or externally) is the combination that drives a 4 times benefit to training alone (ICF 2009).

So, given your company or team objectives when will it be right for you to invest in the development of your people?