Today I was able to be a part of a Maritz tradition – I was on the bridge over I-44 that links the Maritz north and south campuses. Maritz has been supporting the St Louis Children’s hospital, and two boys, both of who have been patients there this year, and are children of Maritz employees, helped Santa flip the giant switch to turn all the lights on. It was quite fun. Here’s one view of the lights from one of the outer roads.
Archive for the ‘Work’ Category
“What if we train our people and they leave?”
“What if we don’t train our people, and they stay?”
This was recently tweeted by @ardalis; it appeared in my timeline after someone else retweeted it, I retweeted it, and it has been retweeted over 100 times. @ardalis was unsure of the source, and a quick google search has it, or variations of it, all over the place, most of them unattributed. One site attributed it to the president of Motorola, but I couldn’t find anything to back that up. No matter who said it, it’s an interesting question.
The premise behind the first question is that if a company trains its staff, then they will be more qualified to do jobs that are at other companies, thus giving them an incentive to leave their current position. But, as the second question points out, keeping lots of staff untrained, unable to do even better at whatever it is they do, unable to learn new skills to allow them to do more interesting and useful things will only hold the company back.
What a crazy world we live in where someone actually thinks that training someone is a bad idea, because that will enable them to leave. It’s seldom that a single thing about a job will make someone leave, so if you think that by training someone you’re helping them find a better job it must be because the job they are in is already lacking in some way. If someone is already looking to leave, and you train them without giving them strong incentive to stay, then of course, that may help them move. The issue, though, is not the training, but the existing work environment. If you want people to stay, give them proper incentive. To give them proper incentive, you need to communicate with them. Also, note that incentive to stay is not the same as disincentive to leave.
Two particular experiences come to mind from my past that show my employer at the time could have done better in this regard.
In one situation, staff were low on morale. The company decided to give everyone pay rises. Well, getting a pay increase improves morale if the problem is low pay. If the problem is being expected to work 70+ hours a week, that’s not so much a solution. The company assumed it could just throw money at the problem and it would go away. It didn’t. People still left. The company failed to listen to its employees about what the problem was.
The other situation more directly speaks to the quote I used to open this discussion. I was sent away on some training, but before I did so, I had to sign an agreement that said that if I left within a year, I had to pay pro rata the cost of the training. It happened that I was reasonably happy with the job, so although I disagreed in the principle of it, I signed it as it was too much effort to fight it, and this was training they wanted me to do, in order to do the job I was hired to do better. This was not something I had asked for. So until that year was up, I was effectively handcuffed to the company by the extra financial burden it would have been to leave. I know some people who chose not to do the training because of this. They still hadn’t left a year later, but imposing a disincentive on leaving didn’t do much to keep morale at tip top levels. After I had left, I heard of one person who took some training, left the company after 6 months, and negotiated with the new company a signing bonus to cover remaining cost of the
When companies provide training, they empower their employees to be better at their job, and provide value back to the company. If it appears that training people will make them find better jobs elsewhere – in fact, if you’re even entertaining the idea that it might – then I’d like to suggest that the problem isn’t in the training but in the whole atmosphere and culture within the company.
How does your company deal with the issue of training?
How does your company give you incentives to stay?
Have you experienced poor decisions with an employer concerning improving morale and keeping it high?
Today I received an unusual email. It appeared to be an error message of some kind, but in a foreign language, possibly Dutch or Afrikaans. I didn’t recognise anyone on the distribution list; in particular I didn’t recognise any of the addresses as being ones I would expect to receive a mail.
Soon after, there were responses: people requesting to be removed from the email list, and people echoing those requests. So I investigated a little further, and saw that one of the recipients listed was “OU_USERS”. Uh-oh.
Let me explain. We are on a hosted Exchange service. What this means is, rather than us managing our own Microsoft Exchange server in house, it’s hosted out on the internet, and we connect to it to get our email, sync our calendars, and the like. On the same servers are a number of other companies that use that service. Under normal circumstances, our Exchange systems are completely separate. But, deep down within they system, they are all using the same underlying platform, with all the different users from the different companies on it. OU_USERS is a special group – one that you shouldn’t be able to email – and it’s one that contains every single user on the system, no matter which company they work for. Something had gone wrong, and that initial email had sent a message to it, and then people were using “reply-all” to respond.
So, first we had people asking to be taken off an email list – one that didn’t really exist (or rather, technically did, but removing them from it would mean removing them from the system, which is not what they wanted).
Then we had people explaining that the recipients of the email should just ignore them, and not use “reply-all”. But to get that message across, they of course hit “reply-all”. More people wanted to be removed from the email list.
Then, as the number of emails being sent escalated, some people were getting clearly frustrated, and understandably so. But here’s where things took an interesting turn. People took out their frustration by using “reply-all” and venting… calling other people “idiots” for using “reply-all” (which, of course, they themselves were doing). Then more and more inappropriate language appeared.
What I thought was interesting was that these were clearly professional people (that is, using those email accounts for their work). They also had no idea how many people were receiving their emails, nor who those recipients were. And yet they behaved in the most unprofessional manner. Their emails could have been received by vendors, clients, prospects, and who knows who else. My colleagues and I were really surprised by the content of some of those emails.
Yes, there was a problem, and one that should have been reported to the hosted Exchange provider (which it was, for us). But apparently, people still need to learn when it’s appropriate to hit “reply-all”. They also need to learn to be very careful in what you say, especially when you don’t know who the audience is. Although I doubt any of the companies (from what I could glean from email addresses and signatures, anyway) are ones that I would normally expect to do business with, there are a couple that if the opportunity arose, I would certainly not wish to do business with, based solely on the highly inappropriate language that they unleashed to probably several hundred, possibly a couple of thousand people that they don’t know. There were, at a guess, around 100 emails sent out with people using “reply-all”. So at least 100 people received it, and obviously many more did who sensibly chose not to “reply-all”.
So, if you have an unexpected situation, even if it’s horribly frustrating (and from the sounds around the office as each email arrived, it was horribly frustrating for many), think before you act. Think about what you’re saying, who will receive that message, and what their reaction might be. Your venting might have a bigger impact than you expect, and not have your desired results.