Develop your own talents and secure your future..

Build your own academy, educate more, and hire less

Have you been struggling with finding the people you need? Have you considered that developing your own talents in many cases can be better than trying to find and hire people? A structured competence program with strong integration between education, training, and on-the-job experience can pay off, many times faster, than onboarding new people. Have you integrated your people strategy into your short-term and long-term business strategy – this is maybe more important now than it has ever been.

A workable solution that works is to develop a concept for and establish your competence development, so it is an “institution” in your organization. You can call it an academy, learning house, or training center it is not important. The importance is that you make it a persistent concept in your organization.

We hear about it and read about it every day. You are maybe in the same situation as many other companies – you need hands, you need IT people, salespeople, project managers, sales assistants, machine operators, warehouse workers, and many other skills in your organization. Maybe you have also experienced how long-time onboarding can take and how long time ROI is on new people in the organization.

Search consultants and recruitment managers experience that, candidates very often are in constant contact with search consultants and recruitment companies.

This opens two profoundly serious problems I believe most of us know about. It is difficult to keep employees in the organization, and it is very cost full to find and hire new employees.

Some studies show that about 25 – 30 % of people we hire leave the company again within 12 months. Forty percent after 18 months. In the unemployment statistics, we always look at people in between jobs or in between education and their first job. But if we also include the number of people who are in introduction or onboarding periods where they hardly have reached their break-even for their salary and for sure has not paid back the recruitment costs, we have an enormous resource in people who are not “efficient” for us in the companies. This put more pressure on the rest of the organization who must work more to compensate for the new and/or missing people. Stress and burned-out effect increase, which increases the inefficiency in our human capital.

Through our behavior in how we manage this issue in management we fuel the problem and keep the eval circle running. We think and act in the short term.

The people challenge must be managed through more long-term thinking

The sales arguments in the recruitment business are focused on two especially essential elements: a strong onboarding process over 8 – 10 months with coaching and support from consultants and a deep, serious, and detailed candidate profile definition.

Both elements are very valid, but still short-term thinking.

Imagine that you could increase the average time you keep your talents and key people with 30, 40 or 50%. This would take the overheat out of the recruitment challenge.

Of course, you will always need to hire, also to get new people and innovative ideas to your organization, but it is important to see recruitment as an element of people and competence development strategy and see this as part of your business development strategy.

The solution is to have a people and recruitment strategy where you make sure hiring is a long-term solution and not to get a job done here and now. Therefore developing the skills and capabilities in the organization is a key point to be successful in this. I will hereby refer to some issues to be managed.

A carrier offering, or a capacity to solve a job.

I have very often heard that egg. IT people hardly leave the university before they have a job on their hand. We also hear that they leave fast again, and the saying is that the young people are zappers. We know that Herzberg’s motivation theory still is valid. This mean that two major facts are important in motivating and keeping people: Personal development and influence on own job situation. This is also the case for the young people, who are not more zappers than I have been in my carrier.  So, to increase the time we keep these talents it is important to have a long-term plan for their carrier, hire them for this and to keep on educating them and increase their capability. IT people might need more business training, finance skills, project management or leadership training. You make them more valuable, more flexible for the future and they experience personal development. I believe many of the people we hire is based on a short-term need and therefore the longtime perspective for the candidate is missing.

Structure follow strategy

If we define structure as the organization, people the competencies we need, it must be a spinoff from the strategy discussions. A great part of the tasks you hire people for today are no longer existing in 3 – 5 years. Therefor we need to find people who can change, develop, and grow together with our long-term ambitions and be a good travel partner for us in this journey. On the journey we must keep on educating them for the future. You can even find situations where companies are stocked and blocked in their development because they do not have the skills and capabilities in their staff, and exchanging the staff is not realistic. Some have tried to establish a new sales strategy, added other products to the portfolio, a new go-to-market approach, continuous development in the organization etc.  and realize the organization are not able to manage this, because they do not have the skills and capabilities.

Think long term on educating of the organization and less on hiring

Education is of course not a short-term solution, but it is also not necessary a solution which take much longer time, compared to how long time it takes to find new employees and onboard them. As a supplement to your recruitment of experts and key people you can educate the employees you have already, or you can hire less skilled and less experienced people and run competence-build-up program to bring them on the level you need. At the same time, you can build them very concrete, and tailor made to your company. With a targeted program with a mix between good training and on-job experience of unexperienced people, you can make employees in many functions break-even in 10 – 15 months.

The academy model is working – I know

Some years ago, I was the director and founder of a corporate academy in a large international company. I know many people say that big companies can do this. But the concept can easily be sized down to smaller companies. I shall here give you some points of the academy experiences and the effect of it.

The first task for this academy was to up-grade the global sales and service organization to be stronger in value-based selling. The target group was around 2500 employees. We started from nothing except only with some product and service training already existing in the company. The project was one of three main strategies in sharpening the value proposition and value creation for the customers.

I started the job in the spring one year and spent a couple of months to learn about the company and started the analysis phase.

1.   Analysis phase – about 6 months

Interviewing top managers, regional directors, segment directors etc. about their views and expectations to the content and effect of the project.

Visiting sales companies and explorer the as-is state of selling and the variation of sales process in the company.

Regional workshops where I met most of the sales manager in the organization, where we worked and discussed content, effect and how handle employees coming home from training.

2.   Kick-off seminars – about 3 months

We needed to bring the entire group of participants on a “start-level” of sales understanding to avoid too much variation in the learning groups. We run about 25 local seminars together with a training provider.

3.   Developing programs – done in parallel with the analysis

In this period, we also developed the programs in different modules and had the first modules ready to go during the spring, a year after my start.

We also started the development of a learning model, meaning how to be best prepared for training, how to get the most benefit of the training, and the learning methods.

Of course, this is a dynamic process with overlap, and we also had other practical projects as building the buildings, establish campus.

4.   After 12 months of activities and preparation we were ready to run the first training courses.

This is even a large scale which of course take longer than if you make the concept in smaller scale. We developed methods to measure the effect on the training on increased skill and in business value. Therefor I know it works. We did also a lot of constants renewing the programs along with experience and feedback.

Making a group of new educated salespeople break even in 12 months

One of the programs we established was a trainee program. It was getting more complicated to get qualified candidates for sales in many countries in some business areas. Therefor we wanted to develop a method and concept to hire new educated people and train them. This was a clear concept with a combination of 5 – 6 training modules, and practical work at home, related to each module. Each trainee had a local senior college to follow up, run co-visits. The combination of the training and on-the-job is the key driver in success.

The program took about a year, and we measured the effect of the program. The conclusion was that the group, not all individual, were break-even after 12 months. At this stage, their contribution in the sales, paid their salary and the training costs we had spent on them. We measured the teams again after two years, and they performed in the top end. Years after when I met many of these trainees around in the organization they were as business managers, sales managers, segment managers, application managers etc. An all of them, when I was together with them, looked back on their trainee period, as an important job-event and stage in their carrier.

The only disadvantage was that we lost half of them, as they of course were attractive in the job market. But the benefits of them who stayed more than paid all the costs also on those who left, so the bottom line was incredibly positive. Some of them we lost was because of lack of long perspectives, which of course are important for such a group who will be ambitious.

A few steps to establish the academy idea

Building an academy or something like have nothing to do with size of you company. Some of it is even more complicated when the company is large. You can scale it. To establish the academy concept, you can follow these main steps:

1.   Link to the future strategic challenges

Which skills, competencies, culture, behaviors, and attitudes do we need in 3 – 5 years?

2.   What are the fundamental level candidates need to have to be able to grow with us?

3.   Which people in our organization can we build our future competencies on?

4.   Develop competence development programs and concepts

Trainee programs for new educated and build-on concepts for experienced

5.   Develop methods to the on-the-job follow up and training – in some cases all the training can be done on-the-job

6.   Establish methods to measure and KPI’s for the participants

You do not need large groups to run training seminars. You can easily make incredibly good training with 2 or 3 persons, and you can of course use e-learning when possible. The important driver for success is a common future perspective for your company and the employee and the practical day-to-day follow up and implementation of the skills learned.

You are more than welcome if you want coaching and consulting on how your HR and management can build up and manage an academy.

Kim Hansen

Partner Human 360, mobile +45 2132 8972

June 2022


Kim Hansen
Kim Hansen
+45 21 32 89 72
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