Investment in people

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I read an article the other day that suggested that poor management was driving nearly half the UK workforce to seek a new job, citing the three main reasons as being getting better satisfaction elsewhere, getting better remuneration elsewhere, and that nearly a third felt their skills weren’t valued by their current employer. That got me thinking about how management in financial services interacts with the workforce, and in particular how much time they spend with their people on an individual basis.

All successful businesses rely upon having the right people who have the necessary skills, aptitude, and attitude, but the people must also be provided with the right environment and tools to ensure that the work is done well. One of these tools is management investing time in the workforce as this is not just one of the primary ways of ensuring compliance but is more likely to identify individual skills that the business can use to both it and the employees’ advantage. Unfortunately, over the years I have seen many managers invest very little time in individuals and often this has resulted in them not identifying skills and the employee feeling undervalued. So, the article I read came as no great surprise.

He‘d noticed that this particular employee stood out from his colleagues, not just because he kept deviating from the process, but because of how he conducted himself

For those managers who are willing to invest time in their people there may also be an unforeseen bonus. Several years ago I remember an employee who had a tendency to deviate from a tried and tested prescribed process that he had to follow. This caused many issues for his colleagues who picked up his work and took it through the next stage.

The manager was a busy person. He had a large team of people to manage and spent a large part of his office time in meetings. Sound familiar? He had a very busy team leader who handled the high-volume day to day work but who physically did not have the time to spend dealing with individuals. In that particular environment the workforce was expected to learn their part of the process and deliver it, and those that didn’t often ended up either being retrained, transferred elsewhere in the business, or as a final option were taken down the disciplinary route. Or, they left the business. However, despite his workload and time constraints this manager had different ideas. He‘d noticed that this particular employee stood out from his colleagues, not just because he kept deviating from the process, but because of how he conducted himself. The manager decided to invest some of his time on this employee and having made the necessary changes to his diary he sat down with the employee, watched what he was doing, and asked him questions, so that he quickly identified the key points in the process where the deviations took place. The employee was obviously very capable of doing the work, but he didn’t follow it to the letter when he felt that his way was better.

The manager noted that something in the employee’s ideas of how it should be done that might be worth exploring. He took him over to one of his colleagues who picked up the next stage of the process so they could both see the amendments needed to correct the work. Whilst the principle reason was for the employee to learn why it was important not to deviate from the process, it also allowed the manager to conclude that the deviations the employee was making could actually benefit the process if other changes were made in the following stages, and ultimately when implemented a few weeks later these changes actually saved time.

In any firm a manager is a very busy person, and more often than not wear more than one hat, for example they might be both the Sales Manager and the supervisor, or they might have personal clients as well as a team to manage.  However when it comes to Training and Competence it is important to understand that it is not just a tick-box exercise based on set criteria and standards, it’s about bringing these to life in everyday work situations and even though it may be very difficult for managers to find the time to invest in the people it’s really important, perhaps even vital, that the time is found and spent.

If the manager physically cannot find the time, then they need to find somebody who does have the time.  In smaller firms the employees tend to work much closer together and therefore are more likely to be conscious of each other’s working habits and any issues arising. Larger firms are more likely to have a Compliance team who perhaps might include a Training and Competence person. If you’re a busy manager, and you haven’t done so already, you should engage with the Training and Competence person and ask for their assistance. After all, it’s not about whether or not you have the time or perhaps the skills, it’s about ensuring that the people work to the best possible outcomes and, going back to that article, it’s another way of recognising and valuing their skills. At the end of the day, and for that reason alone, it really doesn’t matter who picks the investment of time in people up!

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About Author

I am a highly-versatile and forward thinking management professional with a history of successful delivery across more than thirty years’ in the Financial Services Industry. Core skills include assessing, training, coaching, process design and implementation, specialising in people, processes, and procedures within a Training & Competence or Learning & Development framework. Periodic writer for T-C News.com

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