Training in the time of Coronavirus | First part | How much is a lack of competencies costing you?
There’s no doubt that at a time when we are facing a recession that could bring the Italian economy back decades, talking about investments in training might seem fanciful given the pressing need to resume production.
But this is not how you should be looking at things: our country has been suffering a productivity gap with other advanced economies for years, so if we do just get going again without bucking this unfortunate trend (i.e. working on our competitiveness) we will be exposed to a risk of weakness, which is partially attributable to a lack of adequate competencies. We should actually be aiming to make our workers better equipped to fight the battle that is being waged on a daily basis in the markets.
I want to be clear and address people who see training as a cost without understanding its economic benefits: have you ever tried to quantify the cost of your inability to resolve problems that could easily be addressed if you had the right expertise?
Let me provide some examples: what is the cost to your organisation of a lack of knowledge concerning your technological instruments? How do you train new staff or staff that is transferred from one department to another and to more senior positions? What are the consequences of going into a meeting without doing your homework? What damage has been caused by communication errors made by other people who may only have come into indirect contact with your customers, suppliers and partners?
If you have never conducted this exercise, I can tell you a story that may encourage you to do so: in a certain manufacturing company there was a problem affecting the production management system; on a recurring, but apparently random basis, an error resulted in delays in the inflow of parts to the plant, with a resulting reduction in quantities produced. For days the workers tried to find the cause of this problem and carried out various interventions which not only failed to achieve the desired result, but actually risked aggravating the situation. The delays began to mount and there were consequences on deliveries and, as a result, on turnover and customer satisfaction, with a series of complaints coming in.
The sales manager was very worried and the top management started putting pressure on the production manager and the CIO. In turn they reacted by urgently requesting the intervention of the company who supplied the platform, which sent one of its best experts in less than 24 hours. The specialist listened to the description of the problem, before using a workstation to insert a “flag” in the settings. The problem magically disappeared and production was restored to normal levels. A few days later the CIO received an invoice for 2,000 euro from the supplier. In response to the CIO’s grievances about the intervention lasting less than an hour and the fee being far too high, the supplier’s customer service manager responded by saying that, in virtue of the urgency, he had recalled his best specialist from a job with another customer and pointed out that, instead of complaining, the CIO should have been thankful they had sent a person who was able to resolve the problem so quickly… thereby avoiding any further reduction in production, turnover and orders which would otherwise have eclipsed the 2,000 euro they had been billed.
What lesson can we take from this story? If the company’s staff had received suitable technical training on the platform, they would not have had to call in an external specialist and, above all, the problem would not have occurred and would have been resolved immediately, with significant economic benefits.
I’m sure that if you think back to situations within your company in recent times, you won’t struggle to find examples where appropriate training would have saved you time and money. Moreover, training should be seen in its broadest form (technical and managerial), because all workers (and therefore the organisation and company as a whole) benefit from it on various levels.