In the recent recession, when costs needed to be managed especially closely in order to survive, the first things that many businesses chopped from the budget as not mission critical were training and marketing. The justification was that belts had to be tightened; training was a luxury that business could do without as the hatches were batoned down and marketing was an unnecessary area - who promotes their Company when others are cutting hard? But was this thinking the right way to go?
If all businesses take the traditional route of cutting marketing spend in a recession, this actually provides a great opportunity for those companies brave enough to keep their marketing spend intact. They are not now competing with a number of other marketing budgets but will have the field pretty much to themselves, with the result being a compounding of returns on their investment and an opportunity to grow market share (businesses don’t just stop dead in a recession so customers will still be making expenditure on the right products and services).
The training budget is a similar story – when recession hits, the training budget is slashed to almost nothing. But does this make good sense? With a likely freeze on new recruitment then I would suggest that it is all the more imperative that employers are able to get the best out of the staff that they do have. And the only way to do this is by identifying skills gaps and then closing this gap via training.
In the West Midlands we have a strong advocate of improving individual’s skill sets in Lord Digby Jones, who regularly makes speeches encouraging skills training at all levels across the region. And at national level we have the new coalition government attempting to streamline the Employability programmes and Work Place Apprenticeship schemes by cancelling the Flexible New Deal 2 scheme (amongst others) and working to introduce a new Work Programme scheme by summer 2011 that will remove a lot of the bureaucracy and inefficiencies previously criticised.
For most companies to stand a chance of survival, it is vital to have the best Board and Management Team possible. As Jim Collins said in his seminal work, “Good to Great”, employees aren’t your greatest assets, the “right” employees are. Get the right people on the bus, and in the right seats, before you start your journey (vision/strategy). This will make all the difference when the entire economy suffers a trauma such as the one we have recently experienced and the business relies on its top level to steer the Company round the rocks. At the senior level, to support previous experience and functional qualifications, there is one training route that stands out above all others – the IoD’s course in Company Direction leading to the Chartered Director qualification. This is still the only qualification route in the world for professional Directors, and the only designation in this field that can help investors gain confidence that the Chartered Directors running a particular Company have been suitably trained for the role.
Train as a Chartered Director and gain the credibility and marketability that this professional qualification will give you in your business career.
Paul Hooper-Keeley is the IoD’s 25th Chartered Director and Managing Director of Intervallum Limited, a provider of Interim Finance Director Services (www.intervallum.co.uk). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .