Is it time to invest in your staff?

Staff training and development. Well known, much needed and pretty much always the greatest challenge that poses any business (that, and recruitment!). So, when you’re lucky enough to find your ideal candidate, how do you go about keeping and upskilling them? With so many different training needs and urgency levels, it can often be a game of Tetris when it comes to marrying up an individual’s development points with that of the organisational goals.

My role across The Verve Group is Director of Culture & Engagement, which means all things considered ‘fluffy’, ‘people’ and ‘happiness’ all land at my door – staff engagement, coaching and learning & development to name but a few. Thankfully, it’s all the stuff I love and genuinely relish in the opportunity to bring out the best version of oneself.

It’s no secret that businesses which are willing to invest in their employees – whether that be by offering long-term qualifications or the practical skills needed for the role – both attract and keep employees. Ultimately, those who receive the appropriate training become more valuable to the business, contribute to the business growth and on a personal level, feel valued in return.

All of that said, training and development aren’t as easy as just asking an employee what they want help with and then delivering on it. It takes time and resource – both in identifying the need in the first instance, delivering on it and then the ongoing support to make sure that the new knowledge is transferred back to the business. And often, such time and resource aren’t always available to manage internally. Is it a genuine need? Or is it a limiting belief they have about themselves? What’s the cost to the business? Is there a benefit back to the business? How do you measure that return on investment? All very sound questions to ponder.

Last year, Cathi (Founder of Para-Sols and Apricity Compliance, and more recently CEO of The Verve Group) and I created The Art of Finance having experienced our own internal training challenges whilst scaling Para-Sols and Apricity Compliance. With a really successful graduate programme (The Grad Scheme) across the companies, it was crucial that we developed a learning and development framework to achieve the business growth we’d set out in our business plan. This meant practicing what we preach and carrying out a training needs analysis on ourselves;

  1. Decided on the skills we needed in the business to achieve success.
  2. Evaluated the skillsets we already had internally.
  3. Highlighted any skills gaps (and set about filling them!).

The technical skills were the easiest to identify. Ultimately, Para-Sols and Apricity needed paraplanners and compliance officers and we knew that we wanted to support them to gain their Level 4. This was straight forward enough, we identified the route we wanted from them (the CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning) and we’re invested in their qualification-related progress. Even the practical skills needed for the roles were straight forward as the model we’d created was predominately on-the-job training, and scheduled a number of internal workshops to deliver on the varying complexities expected of them as they progressed through their career path (which was visualised and shared with them from the outset). The greatest challenge came, and still does, with supporting the softer skills – team leading, effective communication and confidence-building being some of the most common. As the teams within the group have grown, it’s meant we have different challenges now to what we had three years ago so, regularly reviewing your training needs analysis is an absolute must!

For me, this experience is in every essence, the uniqueness of The Art of Finance and for the firms who have enrolled their staff to date, it’s where they see great value. Cathi’s technical knowledge and understanding of the whole of financial services coupled with my background in learning & development and coaching means that we’ve designed all our courses to provide the technical support they need to get through the exams and give them the practical skills they need for the role (direct business benefit). Together with the emotional, more coaching style approach, empowers and enables the candidates to thrive (direct personal benefit). I always say that it should never be a choice of professional or personal development, it’s when the two can be blended that the real magic happens for all involved!

Natalie Bell – Co-Founder & Director
Part of the Verve Group

Design by Tony McBride, website by Outlines Design.