Great People are the Foundation of Great Businesses

Great People are the Foundation of Great Businesses


In my first article, Skills Development Defined, I noted that skills development is the intended output of education and training efforts. Knowing how to effectively manage these efforts must include understanding the company and its people, including employees and customers.

If you don’t understand your company’s mission and vision, you won’t know how best to support its various functions. The same goes for people; knowing employees’ roles, where they fit into the big picture, and how they operate will help you manage skills development so that every function supports the people tasked with getting things done.

The right environment

The more you know about how the company works and what people are doing to build business, fulfil customer requests, meet deadlines and otherwise perform their duties, the more successful you’ll be in creating and sustaining an environment that fosters success.

In developing your skills development plan for 2013, I suggest you use the words of The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) as a starting point: “Our roadmap starts with our mission… Our vision serves as the framework for our roadmap… our values serve as the compass for our actions and describes how we behave in the world.”

Your company’s vision statement articulates what, essentially, your company is trying to do. Think about that, jot down some ideas and, finally, write down a single sentence that simply describes why your company exists. For example, TCCC exists “To refresh the world.”

This is the standard against which they measure themselves. Everything they do in their business is geared towards achieving this aim. It’s a statement that can be remembered and applied to every action taken in the business.

Know your vision

Your next step is to outline your company vision; a summary of what needs to be done to achieve the mission. TCCC references, amongst others, specific, measurable standards for people, profit and productivity as enablers to achieving the company vision.

All of these can be positively impacted by skills development. For example, TCCC states that [it should be a] “Great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.”

Their training and development efforts therefore need to be focussed on ensuring that influencers across all levels of the organisation are strong leaders, that they inspire their colleagues and act as mentors to encourage people to perform their best.

Their people need strong communication skills; they need to be able to articulate the power of TCCC, what is expected of employees, what opportunities exist within the company and so on.

Finding your vision

Think about what needs to be done to achieve your vision. Then identify those areas where skills development can play a part; what skills need to be developed to achieve your vision? Prioritise them and then develop a business plan that looks at:

  • What impact the development of these skills can be expected to have on your business
  • How the training could be funded e.g. through spending training budgets or through claiming skills development levies or tax rebates. Think creatively here; maybe there is a simple Return on Investment calculation that would justify the cost of training?
  • How the new skills will be applied and practiced to make them sustained behaviours. This includes a review of how you make the employees accountable to improved performance and how their environment supports this improvement

This last bullet point takes us to the manifestation of your company culture and values; how your employees need to act and behave in their workplace. TCCC lists leadership, collaboration, integrity, accountability, passion, diversity and quality. These are not behaviours that are achieved in isolated, one-day workshops.

They are developed over time and applied across a number of areas, to each of the enablers in the vision statement. These are the performance standards against which your employees must be measured. They need to ‘live the values’.

For more about what ‘living the values’ means, look out for my future article on this subject. In the mean time, take a look at the TCCC website.

Deidre Elphick-Moore
Deirdre Elphick-Moore, has an Honours Degree in Psychology and over ten years of international experience in human capital management at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Co-founding The Office Coach in 2009, she now focuses on personal and workplace effectiveness training and development. Her relaxed, engaging style encourages people to learn more, remember more and apply more in their workplaces, as well as inspiring to consistently better themselves in the work place.