Any entrepreneur wants their business to continue to grow and develop, to win new customers and to develop new products and services.  There are many ways of achieving this such as investing more money into sales and marketing or research and development or by employing staff with a wider range of skills and experience.

Over the past decade however, our experience has been that investment in management training, staff learning and development can really broaden the horizons of a company and enable it to grow.  For example, it is essential for managers and staff to have good ‘people skills’. This is especially true with small businesses or recent start-ups who rely on selling and conveying the right image to their customers to win orders. However, we have found that in many cases people are primarily employed or promoted because of their technical abilities, and not on their ability to work in a team or to manage people effectively.  So how can management training and development help your company?

Learning and Development not only helps with the obvious self development of staff, but can also help with team building and a general boost in morale. Attending training sessions is often a chance for everyone to get together to clarify the vision of the company and agree necessary plans and actions.   For new businesses or recent start ups, it is a chance for people to understand what the priorities of the company are, and for everyone to be able to work towards them.

In a small business there are invariably lots of areas that require time and investment so why should management training be a priority?  The most important method of growing any business is to employ the people that will take the company in the right direction. It is often the case that people will not have all the attributes required for their particular role, even if they are really good at their job. If everyone in the company is performing to their potential, and everyone is sure about their role then this can benefit the bottom line of the company. Management training and development is the vehicle for ensuring that everyone is working to their potential.

Even if the business wants to invest in management training how can it be sure that it has the financial resources to do it?  Management training is not just for large organisations.  Although large companies may have bigger budgets, it is a mistake to view it as a luxury. Development can start right at the top with coaching schemes for senior managers of the business who may have issues that they need discuss with someone from outside the company, as it is often useful to get an outside perspective on things. Financial support may also be available through the Government’s ‘Train to Gain’ initiative where there are funded programmes to support further education of employees.

When a SME has decided what their training and development needs are how should they go about choosing a supplier?  It’s important to choose a company who has experience of dealing both with SME’s, or family run businesses as well as large corporations.  In this way the SME can benefit from the trainer’s large company experience.  It is also worth ensuring that the trainer has experience of working with business owners and understands the complexities of actually running a small business – particularly as small businesses don’t have the necessary resources to provide cover for their colleagues when they are away.

However, at the end of the day, the performance and growth of a business will only be as good as the people in it and so one has to ‘speculate to accumulate’ as the old adage goes. This is particularly true with training and development, because investment in your staff now will mean greater returns in the long run.