Is Your Organization Sophophobic?

At some point in time you’ve heard it.  Maybe it was a previous employer.  Maybe it’s your current employer.   Maybe you heard it from a friend as they were complaining about their job.  It doesn’t matter where – you’ve heard it.  “If we invest in training people, they’ll just take those skills to a competitor.”

Or maybe it was, “We just don’t do training here.  We can’t afford the (fill in the blank, time, money, resources, loss of productivity, on and on and on.).

Or maybe it was the classic, “If people really want development, they’ll pursue it for it themselves.”

Each of these statements represent resistance or a fear of providing training and development opportunities to employees (Interesting side note, sophophobia is the fear of learning.  Who knew?  Looks like there’s a phobia for just about everything.  Good thing members of MSEC aren’t sophophobic!).   If we take a lesson from phobias, this fear of investing in employee development is an irrational one (“So you’re saying you’d prefer to retain untrained people instead?”).   An organizational culture dominated by this fear of development impacts all of your employees – from the guy who’s only been on the job for a couple of days to your most senior staff.  New employees who don’t receive adequate training within their first year of employment are more likely to leave and tenured employees who don’t receive continued developmental opportunities report higher disengagement and dissatisfaction with their employer.  At the end of the day, training and development is as much an employee retention device as it is a productivity tool.

Last month, I wrote about the emerging 70-20-10 model of learning.  This research from the Center for Creative Leadership states that 70% of our most impactful learning comes from on-the-job experience, 20% from mentor/coaching relationships, and 10% from official training environments.  What’s important to remember is that each of these – OJT, coaching, and the classroom – done well, can uniquely and significantly contribute to employee satisfaction and retention.  If you want to leverage your developmental offerings to support your retention efforts, consider the following:

Investing your time, talent and resources into an employee development strategy can have significant impact across the organization.  Don’t let sophophobia get the best of you.