Opinion: Having staff stumble around is false economy

Awesome image by Bruce Mars

One thing that I see time and again on customer sites is staff who really don't know what they're doing in trying to solve a problem, or when they are trying to implement a new solution, yet their company just continues to pay them to stumble around while getting almost nowhere.

I'm not talking about someone who's taking longer to achieve something than an expert. I'm talking about staff who are really out of their depth.

Paying someone to do that rather than getting them help or training, so that they know what they're doing, is simply false economy. Implementing poorly designed solutions is even worse.

An even better option would be to pay someone to sit with them and mentor them while they are doing the work. I have a real preference for this as it allows the mentor to just fill in the knowledge gaps, and after all, it's the staff who will be there later when the solution needs to be looked after.

The real trick for a manager though, is to work out how to detect when this is happening. I see three problems in this area:

  • Often the staff involved will not be keen to highlight their own deficiencies
  • Some staff like to just poke around on a problem or idea as that might be "fun"
  • Often the manager won't have the technical knowledge required to be able to detect the skills shortage and might be blind-sided by the staff

And yes, I understand that at many companies, the training budget is a separate bucket to the payroll. But surely someone must be responsible for the overall profitability (or cost avoidance) at the organization.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

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