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Why investing in training is the ultimate win-win

Roger Aust, Managing Director of Close Brothers Asset Finance Print division explains why SMEs should invest in training their staff.

Roger Aust

A lot of entrepreneurs will tell you they learned what they know ‘at the coal face’ or at the ‘school of hard knocks’. That may be so, but these same business chiefs freely admit that their achievements came from surrounding themselves with skilled, talented individuals.

In fact the very building blocks of success in business – agile practices, innovation, good management, product design and so forth – are all created via investment in training for employees throughout organisations, from entry level to senior executives.

Investing in skills brings with it a multitude of benefits for growing businesses, a good example of such is preventing inertia. Without the injection of fresh ideas and encouraging new ways of thinking the same old practices become embedded and when faced with challenges people revert to their comfort zone by adopting familiar solutions, which are not necessarily the right ones.

Training programs reinvigorate organisations; helping to develop fresh approaches, encouraging independent thinking and promoting best practice. They reduce a business’ reliance on recruitment to cover skills shortages and fulfil projects; saving money, time and effort.

At least as importantly, training delivers a morale boost and an injection of energy. Everyone wants to feel like they are progressing, improving and learning as they go. Creating opportunities to upskill, therefore, boosts productivity, reduces absenteeism and encourages loyalty.

Yet Close Brothers’ recently-released Business Barometer reveals that half of small and medium-sized businesses in the print sector do not provide management training for their employees, despite 81% agreeing that leadership qualities are a must for company success.

Three quarters of print businesses also believe that having leaders throughout the organisation is important, while only 13% said leadership was a quality only required in the upper echelons of management.

It’s true, we believe, that businesses need leaders at every level. Although the guiding principles and strategic direction comes from the directors and CEO, middle managers and team leaders have to back up messages and motivate people to carry out jobs to hit the ultimate targets.

Looking back over their career, everyone will remember a manager who has inspired them and quite often one who lacked the skills to lead. The former will have directed their team, motivating and inspiring them; the latter much less so.

At Close Brothers Asset Finance, we believe management training is an absolute must from the grass roots to the boardroom. We see significant long-term potential in the asset finance market, where we are a leading and long established player. That’s why we launched our Training Academy which is recruiting and training up the next generation of sales executives to provide the high level of service our customers demand.

The Training Academy is an industry-leading centre of excellence and is designed to help our sales teams play a key role in funding the UK’s growing businesses, enabling them to invest in the next phases of their development and ultimately helping contribute to the UK’s economic growth. It represents a significant investment in training the next generation of sales people which will allow us to continue to support the future growth of our clients, while delivering the same personal, value-added service that sets us apart.

Successful candidates are mentored by our existing sales managers and guided through a two-year development programme which combines classroom based learning and on-the-road experience based training. At the end of the period they take a role as a trainee area sales manager, equipped with the skills they need to do a great job.

SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy and growing businesses in the printing sector make a fabulous contribution to the welfare of thousands of employees across the UK. By investing in training and skills, these businesses can redouble this effect, at the same investing in a bright future of success for their own organisations.