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Training and Professional Development in Overnight Growth Companies

by Bonni Carson DiMatteo

As e-commerce and businesses grow overnight with capital infusions, entrepreneurs become CEOs, managers become leaders, and co-workers become teams without benefit of time to manage the transition. Frequently, companies think of technical upgrades for valued employees while neglecting the people and leadership skills necessary to drive and manage change. There are several areas of training and professional development that are often overlooked:

  • Evolving managers into leaders
  • Managing change
  • Communication/people skills for leadership and teams
  • Strategic thinking

Beyond the content of the company's explicit mission, the unwritten mission is to attract and retain valuable employees and develop their proficiencies. While outsourcing training has been a hallmark of the nineties, more and more companies are recognizing that you can't train people and leadership skills in a box. It has to be done in the context of the unique culture of the company. Inventors, turned entrepreneurs, turned leaders overnight often cannot morph that quickly without the help of professional development.

There are several solutions to this conundrum:

  1. Coaching for leadership development and strategic planning. A recent human resources survey revealed that 70% of organizations provide leadership coaching.
  2. Communication/people skills for all levels of the organization, from top executives to cross-functional teams.
  3. Managing change. You can't grow if people resist change. Human nature seeks homeostasis. Helping people manage change is a growing concern. A facilitated change management team can help move organizational change while articulating the values and vision of the company. This empowers employees and creates buy-in.
  4. Facilitated executive peer dialogue groups for top executives to meet with non-competitive business leaders to exchange ideas and challenges about the values and vision of the company.

Utilizing the well-honed skills of a coach and facilitator within the virtual walls of the organization can help with the training of people. Leadership and team skills can be a perk that keeps valued employees learning and growing. In a recent Training and Development survey, one of the most important keys to satisfied employees was professional development and an ability to make a difference.

Developing leadership and team building from within sets the vision, values, and culture of a company and can reap great rewards and return on investment. Recent research from the University of Michigan Business School on more than 1,000 companies of different sizes, sectors, industries, and ages shows that culture affects organizations' ability to change in ways that support sustainable success, including: profitability and return on assets (ROA); sales and revenue growth; market share; product development and innovation; quality; and employee satisfaction.

While technical skills can create the growth, people skills are imperative for leaders and teams to manage the changes that growth creates. It is time to put these at the top of the list for training needs in the millennium.

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