Five reasons professional development should be part of your company culture

When it comes to delivering outstanding client service and guest care, your facility and meeting planning staff probably take a very deliberate approach. But does your venue or company take the same strategic approach to investing in the professional growth and development of your employees? Are your people prepared to weather changes and bring best practices to work for your company? Have you given your staff the tools they need to make employee development a priority? 

Often when budgets are tight, one of the first places companies look to cut is in the area of training and development. But that is a mistake, says Global Solutions Faculty Member and Executive Coach Al Calarco. After all, your people are your greatest asset. Calarco, a keynote speaker at the upcoming IACC Americas Connect, shared some insights:

“Sometimes people ask me ‘What if I spend a lot of of time and resources training this person, and they leave?’ However, that’s the wrong question to consider, he says. “The better one is ‘What if you don’t, and they don’t?’”

Failing to invest in the training and professional development of your staff not only puts them at a disadvantage, it also puts you at one. Ask yourself, is it better to have great employees who might eventually leave for more advancement opportunities, but who in the meantime excel, drive profits and boost your venue’s reputation, or to hold on to people who lack the skills, desire or motivation to help your company or venue reach the pinnacle of great customer service?

The most successful venues and meeting facilities are those whose employees are always willing to go the extra distance for guests. And that willingness starts with the example and culture your company sets at the top.

For IACC members, providing staff and leadership training also shows a commitment to remaining in the top 1% of venues around the world. It’s a real-life application of the ideals that make the best venues succeed: investment in staff is an investment in client service.

Building equity with employees

Nurturing and investing in your employees helps create a culture of value. If your employees know you value them, and that you are willing to invest in their professional development, they may be more motivated to work hard and be loyal to you, instead of leaving the first chance they get. 

A focus on training and participation through programs such as the IACC Global Staff Exchange Program and Mentoring Program can also be a selling point for hiring. It helps you be viewed as an interesting employer who offers staff the chance to travel, interact and grow.

In addition, leadership training offered by IACC Professional Development programs and mentoring can your staff become better managers. How many times have you heard someone say they left a position because their boss was overbearing or micromanaging them, or because a coworker was making life miserable and management wasn’t doing anything about it? 

In fact, a 2015 Gallop study in the USA found that 50% of people surveyed had left a job to get away from a bad manager. If your managers aren’t well trained in mentoring or coaching, or don’t have the right skills to lead or deal with difficult situations, then they may be alienating their team members and costing you your most valuable asset.

Five reasons professional development matters

Professional development is not just for your employees, but also for your brand. Here are five reasons why it’s important.

1. Your company image.

Your employees are the ambassadors of your company to the world. If they are not projecting a professional image, or do not have the right training or skills to make a good impression, that reflects poorly on your company as much as it does on them individually. Professional development not only helps your employees grow and excel in their roles, it also helps you ensure your venue’s image remains exceptional. 

2. Talent retention.

We touched on this point above: poor management or lack of leadership skills can cause employees to leave. So investing in professional development for managers and leaders may improve retention. But professional development is also important for people at other levels, because it helps employees stay motivated and interested in their work. By learning about the latest approaches, ideas or skills, employees feel they are relevant and top-of-class, which is a great motivator for performance. Attending conferences, training sessions or having meetings with a professional coach are all ways to keep your employees knowledgeable and motivated, as well as prepare them for advancement.

As part of the IACC global exchange program, Sigtunahöjden Hotel & Conference in Sweden has sent staff members to Australia and hosted members from Great Britain. Lotta Boman, CEO says the benefits are many: 

“The staff grows both in recognition and development. They explore the world and come back with new skills and other views of how to look at their daily work. All this leads to development for the venue and for the staff member. It is especially interesting from an international point of view as our clients come from all over the world and we, as a meeting venue, need to know what clients from around the world expect.”

3. Turning around negatives. 

Changing the dynamics of a negative situation or low morale in a company can be difficult. But one way to approach such issues is through professional development, especially leadership training for your managers. “Direct, kind and honest feedback can go a long way toward helping to shine a light on the dark corners and help someone understand how their actions are affecting others,” said Calarco. “People may not understand the incongruity between their intentions and their actions.”

For example, someone who is blunt and barks out a lot of specific orders may think they are being efficient but instead may come off as micromanaging or insensitive. Communication skills training or working with a professional coach could help turn things around and make the situation better for everyone. 

This may be especially true for employees who are good in other ways, such as those with exceptional creative talents or who achieve high sales numbers, but who tend to leave a “wake” of rubble around them in the process. The high sales quota numbers may not be worth the loss of other talent that occurs as a result. You can do something about it, however, and achieve a win-win with the right coaching or training.

4. Greater profits.

“There is a lot of evidence to suggest that if you take care of your people, the revenue will follow,” said Calarco. A 2017 study reported in Forbes magazine conducted in Britain by the Social Market Foundation and the University of Warwick showed that productivity increases between 12 and 20% when employees feel satisfied. 

Professional development for your staff will help them do their jobs better, so they will become more efficient, and more satisfied in their work. 

5. Better leadership.

Keep in mind that great leadership contains a large dose of self-awareness. We judge ourselves by our intentions, whereas everyone who works with us, judges us by our behavior. Leadership training or professional coaching for your managers can help you elevate your company to one in which employees are valued and supported.

You should also keep in mind that what gets measured gets done. If you are only focused on measuring profits or sales, that may come at the expense of your employees and can impact your success in the long run. Instead, if you focus on measuring the success of your leaders based on metrics such as on employee retention, effectiveness of their teams, or customer-service ratings of those they manage, then their focus will be on creating better employee relationships and team development. In the long run, that will make your business more successful.

Looking for professional development for your team?

Check out the IACC Institute series of webinars and professional development opportunities. View IACC Institute Programs

Read more about these innovative IACC programs:
Mentoring Program
Global Staff Exchange Program

Learn more at IACC Americas Connect

Don’t miss Al Calarco’s Keynote speech and breakout session, Leadership in a V.U.C.A. world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) and Practical Approaches to Leading, Self and Others, at IACC Americas Connect April 16, 2018. 
Find out more.

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