Do UK Companies Lag Behind?
UK companies lag behind their European counterparts when it comes to staff training, the Chartered Institute of Managment says.
In the early 1990s a plethora of management philosophies and buzzwords were born. International business media from Fortune to the Harvard Business Review published précis and analysis on hip topics such as emotional intelligence and the habits of highly successful people.
And then there was upskilling, the idea that no matter how successful you are, you should never stop the formal learning process. Upskilling took the business world by storm – particularly MBA providers – as companies introduced big training budgets and incentives to encourage employees to embrace continuous development.
But here’s the rub; upskilling was a great idea but in the UK, according the Chartered Institute of Management, no one really did anything apart from talk about it.
Results of 2 Year Study by Brunel School of Business and Management
In a two-year study done in conjunction with Birkbeck College and the Brunel School of Business and Management that was completed in May 2006, the institute found that UK organisations spend significantly less on training and development than all the other European countries studied bar Romania.
Despite a wealth of evidence that shows management development and business performance are integrally linked, UK companies do not appear to be acknowledging this connection, says CMI Chief Executive Mary Chapman.
“Unless business priorities are linked to training policies and practices for current – and future – leaders, there is a real danger that other European countries will leave the UK standing still,” Ms Chapman says.
But it’s not just conventional academic or skill-based vocational training for individuals that’s important. Companies also need to address how more group training can enhance organisational dynamics to improve productivity and efficiencies.
A local company leading the way this area is the Brecon Beacons based Call of the Wild. The organisation provides tailor-made leadership and team development courses for a variety of clients, including several major UK blue-chips such as Orange and Vodaphone. Vodafone
Established in 1998, its three directors, Kevin Gould, Mark Soanes and Geraint Lewis, were all local lads who worked in senior management in a variety of professions throughout the UK and Europe before identifying a an opportunity to establish their own company in Wales.
In a nutshell, on the corporate side of its business, the company offers customised outdoor and indoor management development programmes based on clearly identified client needs.
“The types of areas they commonly want to look at are basic team building through to personal development and organisational change -sharing common goals, common purpose, open and frank communication – basically the structure and purpose of a good team,” Soanes explains.
Companies often go to Call of the Wild when there are problems with a dysfunctional team or they need to get a new team working efficiently.
The structure of the in-house training sessions – which usually run across three days – begins with theoretical modules that are then reinforced by experiential indoor or outdoor sessions, a review and then a follow-up in the workplace to check to see the learning has been applied.
Gould and Soanes say spend in corporate training is currently “by far” led by telecommunications industry, followed by software developers. They add that in their experience, when companies need to tighten their budgets, training is the first spending to be cut.
Indoor and Outdoor experiential training programmes are essential in order to highlight leadership skills and for the MD to see their team in action displaying those skills in an environment they weren’t used to and to illustrate how flexible they were in adapting their own particular leadership style.
One of Call of the Wild’s many satisfied repeat customers is Orbis Technology Ltd, which designs interactive gaming systems for clients including Ladbrookes, Ladbrokes BlueSquare and the Hard Rock Casino.
Based in Chiswick, West London, Orbis has just over 100 employees. Orbis’ training budget is work-specific, but the company recognises the bottom-line advantages of team-building training and leadership development.
“We used to have whole company-wide team building events in the past. Our MD wanted to introduce smaller groups to identify potential leaders within the company and Call of the Wild had the best range of scenarios,” says Tamara O’Sullivan, Orbis marketing and events coordinator.
“They created a search and rescue scenario for us where we had a mission to be achieved, to rescue a colleague who had been shot – a bit like from the movie ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, “O’Sullivan says.
The scenario combined navigation and orienteering skills, problem solving to earn the right to use particular pieces of equipment so they were able to rescue the survivor. Each participant took turns at being the group’s leader – an aspect of the training carefully managed by Call of the Wild’s facilitator to ensure no strong personalities dominated the exercise.
“It was very successful. We had very positive feedback from all those who participated and everyone obviously seemed to gain something from it – they appeared to come back more integrated. I do definitely think it brings a form of bonding into the team and the company,” O’Sullivan says.
“We did it for a specific business purpose and to see how people react in different surroundings, and that was achieved. But we also did it to give people the opportunity to get out of the office and enjoy themselves, to let them get to know other people in the company.”
“Training definitely increases productivity – without providing change and stimulus people become restless. As the company evolves we have to help our people evolve. This type of training revitalises them, which has ongoing benefits for the company. If the company is a happy one that’s got to give you an edge.”
For more information on our outdoor team building programmes visit this web page
If any of the above interest you, contact us now!