Who’s accountable for training? The CFO, not HR!

Education is crucial

In fact sometimes I’m not sure we – or the children who are fortunate enough to be going to a school, realise just how important it is! I was completely moved by a picture I saw (which quickly went viral on the web not so long ago) of a Filipino boy doing his homework on the pavement in the light cast by a McDonalds restaurant. For kids in tough areas its the best way out. For businesses it’s the real foundation for growth.

Simply put, best way to 10x the company is to 10x the people. Below is a view on training that I believe will drive more effective improvements in people. But first couple of quick examples of just how crucial education, training and staff development are.

Pals Restaurants: Pals own 26 fast food restaurants in the Tennessee and Kentucky areas in the U.S. They have excellent financial performance, ten times the industry standard order accuracy, four times the industry average order speed and only one third the industry standard staff turnover. One of the huge keys to their success: No staff member is allowed to attend to a customer until they have completed 120 hours of training. (That’s one hundred and twenty hours…just in case you were thinking it was a typo’ !)

AmRest: Henry McGovern moved from Dallas to Poland when the wall came down in Berlin and opened up the first Pizza Hut in eastern Europe. Twenty years later he now has over a billion dollars worth of restaurants all over eastern Europe and China. Reflecting on this history of growth he’s convinced that a huge key has been that they consider themselves a training company more than a restaurant company.

Incidentally, Pal’s CEO was asked whether he was afraid of any of his staff leaving after all his attention on training. He replied , “may be, but it’s just so much easier to run the company with smart people!” One of my other favourite quotes on the topic comes from Sir Richard Branson: “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Who’s Accountable for Training?

Hopefully we get the picture of how important training and education is, but who should be accountable for it in a business In my view, the CFO.

Training and development should be driven by whoever is ultimately accountable for the financial performance of the company. Yes, the human resources team is often responsible for delivering training as part of their function, however, with any key area of the company I believe the person driving an improvement should be the person measuring its effectiveness.

A key activity of a CFO is to ensure the company’s assets are well deployed. The biggest asset a company has is it’s people. It’s also their biggest expense. Whatever aspect of the company is to be improved, whether its leadership effectiveness, sales performance, order processing or customer service it’s effect will show up somewhere on the financial statements. Cue the CFO. What gets measured gets managed.

Lastly, who gets trained? Everyone! While frontline staff continue to need education, it’s imperative that, for the company to effectively grow and remain competitive, the leadership team should receive regular input too. A humorous take on where a company’s choke point resides is that “the bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle!” Those who are responsible for the company’s strategy, vision and growth need education and coaching to continue to steer the company to new levels of performance. If you’re a one-person show, then your number one barrier to your success is your own development. Don’t leave it to chance!

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