Our CSO, Georgina Bale, discusses why an efficient business means training from the bottom-up.
The biggest muscle in the body is the gluteus maximus, otherwise known as ‘the glutes’ amongst a few other nicknames. This muscle does a lot more than provide some extra cushioning— it’s responsible for carrying your body around and works against gravity every single day to keep you upright. Just as our bodies work from the bottom up, the same goes for business.
What’s the difference between bottom-up and top-down training?
When it comes to training, businesses typically take a ‘top-down’ approach—as the name suggests, this is when training and development are prioritised for senior management. The great thing about a top-down approach is that it invests in the key decision-makers of your business first. This is really important, but what if you were to do things in a different order? The ‘bottom-up’ approach is the opposite (as you would have probably guessed). It, instead, prioritises training your admin and support staff, before senior management.
So, why should businesses invest in development from the bottom-up?
One of the most significant considerations when training your team is a return on investment. Support staff are on the front line of your business every day and so, can apply their learnings almost immediately, demonstrating ROI far quicker than those in more senior positions. Additionally, the roles of personal assistants and support teams are centered around efficiency—when they’re trained to be more efficient, it creates a domino effect that can help to make the entire business more profitable.
In a study by LinkedIn, the #1 reason employees said they don’t engage in workplace learning is because they don’t have the time, and yet, 94% said they would stay if the company invested in their training. Talk about a vicious circle. By prioritising a bottom-up approach to development and investing in the efficiency of your support staff, they could potentially save up to 2-3 hours a day for other members of the team, giving them the time they need to complete their training and development. If you prioritised training from the top-down, chances are, development would be pushed back for senior members, which would only push the development of other team members back even further.
If we go back to the glutes analogy for a sec, the strength of these muscles plays a vital role in helping athletes add more power and agility to their performance, additionally reducing the risk of injury to other parts of the body as pressure and demand increases. The same goes for your support team—their performance helps to build a strong foundation for your business, allowing it to scale, move, and change directions with ease. No matter what happens in other areas of the company, a strong foundation makes the impact of risks feel far less, well, risky.
When I read through the LinkedIn report mentioned above, I scrolled through with optimism, hoping to see some mention of the importance of training support staff (and not just because the statistics would’ve helped to back up the content of this post). Instead, I found hard-hitting stats on the importance of training from the top-down—both groups of executives and managers sited ‘retaining top talent’ as the #1 measurement of training and development ROI, with no mention of support staff what-so-ever. And yet, there are so many company-wide benefits that come from investing in the people on the front-line.
I think I speak on behalf of everyone here at BOWER when I say that training and development on all levels play an imperative role in building a strong company culture and a successful business. We believe that training at the top is just as necessary as training support teams, and every single investment is worthwhile—the change I’m proposing isn’t “who should receive training and development?” it’s “who should receive training and development first?” Either way, investing in your team can only result in good things for you, your business, and the individuals who make it a success.