Training

One of the great pleasures of running any firm is taking on young, inexperienced staff and over the years watching them grow in knowledge, ability, confidence, and overall professionalism. It's wonderful to know that you were part of that maturing. However, don't kid yourself—staff won't stay with you forever; you have them for but a portion of their working life. Training and promotion all play a part in keeping staff, but giving them advice, responsibility, and taking a healthy interest in their development all help. It is so much more rewarding to work with staff as people than to employ them as paid tools, and it goes without saying that this personal development isn't just one way.

Companies' approach to training is often polarized; either it is enlightened or it is selfish. Some firms only train staff when they have no other choice. Management sometimes fears that if they train staff they will be better qualified to get a job elsewhere or twist their arm for a raise. They are probably right. Other firms send staff for training regularly (often giving them an annual budget and leaving it to the staff and their line manager to decide which courses they should take). Enlightened firms actively promote training because they understand the value of knowledge. Studies demonstrate conclusively that training yields a very high return on the money invested.

Training is important and respected by staff. One technique that is particularly suited to firms starting up is to get staff to train each other. Once a week over lunch, you organize food and refreshments and one of the teams gives a talk to other members. A lunchtime doesn't sound like much, yet over a year it is amazing how much knowledge everyone acquires.

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