WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT — Wait, I know the first thought when you hear these words is — spend money and resources in this economy to develop my staff? Good idea, but is now the right time?
The answer is a resounding YES! Why now? Why your company? Integrating competencies and learning relates directly to proving business value in 2010. Numerous articles and studies indicate that continuing education, be it in personal enrichment or skill enhancement on the job, points to a bottom line benefit for any company. Your people are your most important asset — a common refrain that's worth thinking about again now when you might be working with leaner staffs. One of the newer management tools in developing the modern day workforce is first to identify unique strengths and abilities of each of your employees so you can use these skill sets to achieve optimum performance for the company itself. In addition to knowing these strengths, it becomes integral to help employees continue learning and expanding their knowledge and their opportunities.
Employees often perceive continuing education either as a motivator to challenge themselves or as steps along a career path. Even lateral moves or merely adding skills is still part of a career path that benefits both the employee and the company.
It's all about integrating a “talent strategy” with business goals. A later article may deal with this discussion in depth, but for now HARDI wants members to know about the educational initiatives coming your way this year to help you “establish an integrated approach to learning” as part of your company's talent strategy.
First, we have expanded our Distribution Learning Network of online programs by working with a prominent training provider, 360 Training. Their library of more than 1,000 titles (and growing) runs the gamut from HVACR basics to advanced design of HVACR systems in new construction to soft skill programs. Subjects such as business writing, business ethics, customer service and even the suite of Microsoft training products are what your newer staff needs if they want to advance. This training targets individuals who need basic information or those who would just like a refresher in areas of day-to-day business principles. And, since it is all online, it is available 24/7.
But here is the best part — HARDI, through its affiliation, will be providing a Learning Management System (LMS) that enables company managers, as well as the students themselves, to track progress of the courses or studies they take. You can explore the HARDI library on its Distribution Learning Network online and learn more about creating your own LMS through HARDI by visiting the website at www.hardinet.org.
Second, look for an entire lineup of seminars and information focused on sales and marketing optimization this spring. Beginning with the Regional Meetings (Southeast, April 18 to 20; Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, May 17 to 19; Central & Great Lakes, June 5 to 8; West/Southwest, June 13 to 15), attendees will hear from Barry Lawrence, Ph.D., and Norm Clark, director and associate director, respectively, of the Thomas and Joan Reed Center for Distribution Research at Texas A&M, with results of an important Sales & Marketing Optimization Consortium based on research from the distribution industry. The latter two regional meetings will also host a “Sales Manager Boot Camp” so that both owners/CEOs and their sales team can benefit educationally at the same location.
Through a generous donation from the HARDI Foundation, the HVACR industry was able to participate in this multidimensional consortium focusing on best practices in sales and marketing in a variety of companies. The effort will conclude in April, and instructors from the Texas A&M Industrial Distribution Program will conduct a two-day seminar incorporating the best knowledge gained from the research this July specifically for HARDI members.
The NAW Institute and Texas A&M are co-sponsors of the wholesale distribution consortia through their Center for Research on Distributor Competitiveness (CRDC).
Third, a series of new webinars addressing specific subjects for the distribution industry will be available in 2010. Through our relationships with the Association Education Alliance and Modern Distribution magazine, HARDI will offer excellent programs at a reasonable rate, which you can access at your option, either as a live program via the Internet or afterwards through the archives.
Fourth, the long-standing and beneficial HARDI Home Study Institute has been reborn with a new look and a new name — the HARDI Independent Study Institute. This acknowledges the fact that personalized study can occur anywhere and anytime convenient to the learner. We also plan to convert this 11-course series to an online version in the future.
Finally, the HARDI Education Committee is tackling a project to assist your company develop career paths or, just plain and simple, a course of action and study for various positions in an HVACR distributor company. A task force will be looking at existing job descriptions from several sources, identifying the competencies for each and then creating a common template for use by any company. The last stage of this effort will be to provide a list of educational resources where anyone can pursue continuing education on their own time or within the structure of a company's learning system.
Effective talent management is key to long-term success for any company. HARDI hopes it can help you along the way by expanding its educational offerings for your employees. Stay tuned for more exciting developments to help YOU develop your workforce.
Patricia A. Kutt, CAE, is HARDI's education director. Contact her at 614/345-HEAT (4328) or [email protected].