The ABC’s of Finance – A different but important language!
Common sense to one man can serve as an epiphany to another! That is the beauty & wonder of education. The problem is, sometimes Education is boring. “I don’t have time for this.” Education can also be expensive. Neither of these preceding facts consider the Value that Education brings to the table. I have 23 years experience with Fortune 500 companies. I can speak with certainty, that Training is all too often among the first ‘discretionary expenses’ cut when things are tight.
In 1994-1995, I was privileged to be honored as “Corporate Role Model” 2 years in a row at my Fortune 100 employer. I had created a micro-level training class for branch managers & their staff, (all technically sound), but many were lacking financial savvy. Our division went through 4 restructurings over the next 8 years. I was repeatedly given increased scope & scale thanks to continually impressive financial results, to the point that my training blossomed into a division wide Operational Best Practices week-long training class. We then incorporated EH&S, Human Resources, Customer Retention and Ethics to compliment the win-win approach to Financial Operations to maximize both company wide, branch & personal performance. All this occurred before the advent of crisp Webinars & You Tube videos. The class was originally expanded to two (2) weeks long to cover all the materials. Eventually the training was cut to 1 week & everything was packed in & expected to be taught & digested. The classes initially offered 4 times a year, were then cut to 2 times, and finally face to face training & interaction with experienced managers & peers were all but eliminated. New managers were given a training CD that mirrored the two (2) three-inch binders provided. How many people do you think got the same benefit from self-study CD/book versus Q&A with peers & real-time interaction with experienced managers? Results, tenure & turnover speak for themselves.
The challenge & cost concerns are obvious to short-term, bottom line focused organizations. It ultimately comes down to a question of leadership of an organization versus self-preservation and personal bonus opportunities. This same concern is often the undoing of small businesses, start-up companies & ‘all knowing’ entrepreneurs, accustom to doing things ‘their way’. “I grew my company from nothing, I got this far from sweat & hard work.”
All that is fair & true, but how many of these folks have Exit Strategies? As much as you must respect these mavericks, an open mind is the gateway to continued success. How many companies, small & large, public & private, are reeling or feeling the pain of this economic crisis? The inability to plan & effectively react, causes 2 normal occurrences (knee jerk reactions). Companies ‘hunker down’, make cuts & try to weather the storm, OR die a painful slow business death. There is another option, but it is a Contrarian point of view. If everyone is selling, it is generally a great time to buy. If your competition is hunkered down, it is your time to Educate yourself & team, invest, market, go after the best players, find the right metrics and capitalize on them. This regrettably is not the norm. A Proactive posture is ‘too risky’, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
One of the biggest paradoxes in business today, is that Human Capital Investment, is really an expense on the financials. Training is an expense. Payroll & salaries are expenses. Expenses are viewed with a short-sighted vision. An investment is supposed to be long-term oriented. Not enough companies are willing to truly make that investment for the long-term. There are some however….
I want to give kudos to Marsh USA. Marsh is the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser. They have over 24,000 employees and provides advice and transactional capabilities to clients in over 100 countries. Recently in CFO magazine the following Article serves as a reminder … Educating your team can be motivating, empowering & key to continued success. Please see attached link. http://www3.cfo.com/article/2012/2/training_financial-education-marsh-mcsweeney-hinton-schiff-hagemann
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