The organizational costs of incompetence

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Yesterday we talked about how being trained doesn't necessarily equate with competence. Today we'll take a brief look at how that discrepancy can impact organizational performance.

To start, take a look at the picture to the right. Now, by no means are we casting aspersions on the capabilities of these two able-bodied young men by implying that they are incompetent, as the title above alludes. However, given the tremendous level of accuracy, acuity and precision required every day in their individual roles within their manufacturing setting, it's a good entry point for this discussion to consider how one hole in their training could, at any point, on any day, engender compromised competence, thereby resulting in a possible environmental, health or safety-related disaster or impact product quality.

Training touches every part of your business

The benefits of a training program that cultivates actual competence are multifaceted and impact all aspects of corporate performance. Of course, on a day-to-day basis, competence reduces the probability of errors in all job functions, thereby boosting productivity and profitability. But above and beyond that, from a corporate perspective every organization has a moral, business and legal obligation to their employees in terms of education, and a good training strategy will address each facet in a comprehensive way.

For example, a business has a moral obligation to ensure employees are sufficiently trained in their job function so as not to suffer injuries or encounter preventable illnesses on the job. In business terms, should an employee get injured or become sick at work there is the potential of a variety of costs that may impact the organization’s bottom line, including claims, lost time, and fines associated with regulatory infractions. From a legal perspective, if an employee is injured in, let's say a manufacturing setting, they could initiate a lawsuit against the organization and claim that they were insufficiently trained. In such a situation, if the business could not produce documented evidence to clearly prove the employee was provided with required training, it would be on the hook for substantial damages and other consequences, not to the always mention unavoidable legal fees.

Competence boosts retention

Beyond the business-critical advantages to a comprehensive training strategy outlined above, a powerful byproduct of such an approach is, quite simply, that a competent employee is a happy employee. By ensuring employees are fully prepared to appropriately fulfill all of their job requirements, they suffer less stress over the tactical elements of their job, and enjoy greater confidence and increased motivation to do their job better.

Further, organizations that take a holistic, continual approach to training and skill-building will ultimately cultivate the sentiment among its workforce that the employer genuinely cares for the employee. While this all leads a higher level of morale among staff and an enhanced focus on quality, the most notable benefit is that retention rates will be greatly improved, and attrition rates will fall. Happy, competent employees who feel they are adequately equipped to excel in their duties are less inclined to leave their organization and more inclined to contribute to their employer’s success.

So how do you do it? Well, you start with a training strategy, the subject of tomorrow's post.

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