In the Money Section of USA Today on Monday May 19th, an interview with 3M CEO George Buckley ran (here is the online copy).
According to a recent survey by The Hay Group and Chief Executive magazine, 3M ranked first in organizational leadership development.
Given that standing, the thoughts of the CEO would be valuable. While I encourage you to read the full interview, this question is one on many people’s minds these days . . .
In this economy, can companies afford the cost of leadership development?
Buckley answered: Years ago, when I worked at Brunswick, I was asked, “George, it’s a tough time right now. Should we be spending money on training? What if these people leave the company?” My answer was, “What if we don’t, and they stay?” [emphasis mine].
Let me put another level of urgency into this argument. In most areas, in most industries right now there isn’t as much job movement as in recent years – there are fewer great jobs to move to, so fewer people are hopping from one company to the next.
But the recession will ease, unemployment, will drop, and great jobs will come open. And, because human beings are human beings, they will look at other opportunities – but they will stay if the are growing, engaged and valued.
If you aren’t engaging your folks with training, development, new learning opportunities now, they will be less engaged and loyal and more likely to leave when the jobs are more plentiful again. If your retention percentages look good, ask yourself if the reason is something you are proactively doing, or if it is just a reflection of the economy.
So, should you be investing in your people through executive coaching, and organizational leadership development programs?
Now more than ever.
Maybe you have to be a bit creative. Maybe you have to look for more cost efficient ways to make your leadership skill training happen. That is ok. Realize that now is the time to keep investing, so that when the economy turns, you and your people are best positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves.