Mark Evenden, director of management training and development company Developing People, takes a look at how small businesses can continue their rise to success by incorporating management training and development into their business plans.

An owner of any company wants the business to broaden its horizons and to continue to grow. There are many ways of achieving this such as investing more money into sales and marketing, employing staff with a wider range of skills or broadening the product range or services of the company. Over the past twelve years however, we at Developing People have found that investing in management training, staff learning and development can really broaden the horizons of a company. 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 in order to gain more business. It is often the case that people are employed for their technical abilities but not necessarily their ability to work in a team or to manage people effectively. Here are a few of the questions that are often asked to us:

1. Should I be investing in management training and development when there are lots of other areas that require investment?

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. Training and development are the important factors in ensuring that everyone is working to their potential. A small amount of investment in training can reap large profits further down the line.

2.How can management training and development help my company?

Learning and Development can not only help 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.

3. Surely management training and development is just for companies with large budgets, not for a small businesses?

This is not necessarily true. Although large companies do have bigger budgets and more freedom to spend on development, it shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury. Development can start right at the top with coaching schemes for the executives and senior managers of the business who may have issues that they need discuss with someone from outside the company. It is often useful to get an outside perspective on things. This is especially true for people who may have set up businesses for the first time, and may face issues that they do not fully understand. It can have a huge impact on a managers decision making and hopefully help the company as a whole.

4. How do I know which areas of my company require development?

Any reputable management training and development company will have a process to help you to understand people’s strengths and weaknesses, personal preferences and development needs. They should use diagnostic tools and psychometric profiling in order to fully understand these aspects. This is particularly important in a new company, where some of the staff may have a limited knowledge of the company and of each other. An assessment of their needs and the development of these needs will relate directly to the organisations performance.  There is an added benefit when members of the management team are prepared to share this information with each other as it provides everyone with a greater sense of mutual understanding and respect, a prerequisite to effective team work.

5. What is your advice for small businesses or start-ups who may be considering staff development?

The important point is 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 trainers large company experience.  It is also worth ensuring that the trainer has experience of working with senior managers and teams and understands the complexities of actually running a business. 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.