Investing in People – Should it Be Ruthless?

Investing in People – Should it Be Ruthless?

30 Aug 09:00 by Alvaro Camacho


No company has a bottomless budget for developing their people. There is usually a set amount of turnover put aside for the purposes of helping people develop, but it is rare that this budget is split evenly across the business. The standout functions and individuals receive the most funding, but as a consequence, they have to show a return on this investment.

In much the same way, the money from the National Lottery has been ruthlessly split amongst the sports that have brought home the medals. If a sport misses their target, their funding gets cut, and this results-focussed approach is what many people think underlies our current standout performance.

But what about the minor sports, whose national champions may not have even gone to the games? Should business owners, and the people in charge of distributing National Lottery funds, continue to focus only on the highest achievers? Absolutely not.

Investing on the highest achievers will always be important, it is widely agreed that this type of investment will allow for great returns and keep things moving forwards. However, by ignoring the needs of the people who aren’t achieving at their maximum, businesses risk losing potential superstars. The recruitment industry is often criticised for its high staff turnover; how much of this can be attributed to poor training or investing too much time in more ‘successful’ members of staff?

Some may argue that the ‘winners’ who possess the talent to succeed deserve to have a lot more time dedicated to their development at the expense of the ‘lesser’ employees/athletes. This seems fairly short-sighted. If we judged every athlete on first impressions, or every business on its first month, there would be a near total hesitancy towards investment.

For example, in the last twenty years Team GB’s medal haul at the Summer Olympics has steadily been on the rise from 15 in Atlanta in 1996 to a recent high of 67 in Rio. One team that has excelled most notably is British Cycling. Winning a total of 12 medals, including 6 golds, the British Cycling team were the most successful to compete in Rio. In Atlanta the team won a total of 2 medals, both were Bronze.

The vast increase in performance highlights that the ‘success’ of a business, athlete or person should not be judged on a mere snapshot in time. Laura Trott personifies this. Born prematurely with a collapsed lung, and later diagnosed as asthmatic, it would have been easy to write off Trott’s chances of playing sport to a high level… she is now Great Britain’s most successful female athlete of all time.

Invest in the right people, in the right amount and reward them when they repay you.

Sounds like a formula for unbelievable success to me.