How To Know If You’re Focusing On The Wrong Types Of Staff...

How To Know If You’re Focusing On The Wrong Types Of Staff Skill Enhancement



You feel compelled to grow your business; why shouldn’t your employees feel compelled to grow as individuals? That’s why we can think of no better way to improve your business’s bottom line than to improve the skills of your employees.

Upskilling your employees boosts productivity by instilling confidence, making employees less reliable on external resources and allowing for more work to be done, and promotes business growth and employee satisfaction.

These are all indicators of a successful business. But many employers focus on the wrong types of skill enhancement, ultimately achieving a poor return on investment [ROI).

With a business to worry about, frivolously spending resources on skills transference will only put you in the red. You need to be strategic about how you provision training and focus on achieving tangible results from your investments.

That’s why skills enhancement should always begin with a good induction for new employees, not just because it costs little but goes a long way to establishing the right attitude and work ethic in employees.

A formalised, structured induction will let employees know what is expected of them and establishes the short-term skills necessary to start working immediately. It should assist in preparing new employees for the culture of their new workplace — assisting their integration into teams.

Another fairly cost-effective but potentially beneficial consideration is to focus skills enhancement initiatives on an employee’s weaknesses.

Related: 11 SA Entrepreneurs on What They’ve Learnt About Managing Staff

Employees will naturally educate themselves in the fields that interest them. But supplement that by encouraging them to subscribe to relevant content like webinars or seminars, read more about their interests, and spend free time researching those topics. 

Improved ROI

Working on their weaknesses that inhibit optimal productivity means generating a potentially huge ROI. Solving problems by eliminating their cause rather than attending to the symptoms is far more productive.

Complement this practice by identifying future supervisors and leaders and giving them the tools necessary to fill those positions. If they’re able to communicate and lead a team, they will be able to put out fires — should they occur — without you needing to step in.

Modern businesses are increasingly flexible, innovative and adjustable to customer demands, or alternatively, they disrupt the market with new products or services.

Rather than outsourcing those skills, incentivise employees who take on new responsibilities with soft skills that benefit their new position, then promote them to a permanent role. It will affect your bottom line by improving productivity and preventing reliance on costlier external skills.


Small shifts

There are other relatively inexpensive methods to transfer skills. One-on-one mentoring, for example, lets new and junior level employees have close working relationships with more experienced staff members.

All that is required is a commitment to set aside some time each week or month to provide feedback, assist with decision-making and direction, and offer general support and encouragement.

Related: Can staff training increase my turnover?

Think of it as an extension of onboarding. Perhaps the most effective solution to permanent skills enhancement is creating a workplace culture that encourages learning. Because it requires limited investment, it optimises ROI.

A continuous programme of ongoing skills development adjusts your spend to what’s required from employees on the fly — a flexibility that should match your business.

Skills quickly become obsolete in the digital era, and front-loading your employees with a list of skills, while beneficial, is costly and may prove pointless if not put to use.

Effective communication with your staff will give you a sense of what is required while they’re updated on what is expected and, together, you can fill in the gaps with appropriate skills.

It means building the right attitudes; encouraging leaders to step forward and boost team morale by encouraging collaboration — something that mentorship will echo.

Pieter Scholtz
Pieter Scholtz is the Master Licensee for ActionCOACH South Africa. ActionCOACH is the world’s largest executive and business coaching company with operations in 41 countries. It is also on the list of the top 100 franchises globally. As a highly successful Business and Executive coach, Pieter is a master of teaching business owners how to turn their businesses around and accelerate their growth. Email him at or phone 082 8813729.