Investing In People

Investing is always associated with return. If you’re going to invest in anything, you will have considered what you will achieve in return – maybe you want to double your investment.

Do you think organizations can invest? Yes they can, to generate more profit. But do you think that they should invest in their people?

Based on experience, some organizations – whether public or private – tend to focus on the strategic view like developing the organizational strategic plan, strategic goals, operational plan, and objectives. A lot of resources are allocated for these activities. In the end, organizations successfully finalize and produce a state of the art piece of evidence and related documents just for the sake of documentation – don’t get me wrong, I’m not generalizing, but I’m just doing a root cause analysis out loud.

Documentation is important, no doubt. However, what is the value of great documentation with the absence of implementation? And talking about implementation means talking about people.

People are the most important asset in any organization. Regardless of the organization’s size, services provided or business field. Without people, there’s no business. The root cause is always people. If there’s a process that can’t be implemented, it’s because of people. Consequently, if there’s a great service delivery with the best standards ever, it’s because of people.

Having said that, we can see how top leaders appreciate the importance of people.


It is necessary to ensure employees’ happiness in order that they in turn can bring happiness to others”

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

“You don’t build a business – you build people – and then people build the business”

Zig Ziglar

People vs. Standards

Talking about standards, we may notice that “people” are considered as a main criterion such as in ISO, EFQM, and many other awards. As an observation also, people criterion usually gets higher allocated marks in standards, which is a good indicator in highlighting the importance of “people”.

Understanding the importance of people has inspired the UK government, represented by UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to create a ‘people centric’ framework called Investors in People. The framework addresses “people” as the heart of organizations. Everything they do is informed by one principle: good people make great business.

Why Invest in People?

When we talk about people, we talk about skills, psychology, group dynamics, culture, competencies etc. This could be the starting point for the organization to invest in. All of that and more can be achieved by an effective learning and development plan, taking into consideration the role of empowerment, recognition, and effective feedback between employees and their manager. But let’s focus on the learning and development part as a major input for investing.

Learning and Development

Effective planning starts first with efficient needs identification. Here comes the Training Needs Analysis (TNA), since it’s the foundation of everything that will happen after. It’s a shared responsibility between managers and employees to understand the training objectives and expected value of the training, or else, it will be a waste of time and resources, which is the case for many of organizations now, especially in the public sector.

It’s always the same scenario when I ask employees about the process of TNA. The majority of responses are “I was appointed to attend the training by the training department”. That’s great, but what is the next step? Was the training beneficial? Has it helped the organization to achieve its objectives? Has it helped the employee to understand his job better? If the TNA wasn’t done properly, the answer for sure will be NO.

The Need for ROI

Top management spend huge amounts of time debating which tool should be used for measuring training effectiveness, and they forget the purpose of the measuring process itself. I’ve seen organizations ‘following’ very efficient models such as the Kirkpatrick model, but in a way that wouldn’t help them, as they’re just following the process but not adopting it.

On the other hand, some organizations implement a very simple and casual approach of measuring the training effectiveness. They get the best results out of the training; the reason behind it is the existence of the continuous improvement motive.

What organizations need is developing an Investing in People culture. A culture that changes the mindset of being just ‘employees’ doing what they were told to do, into ‘people’ with a purpose and individual vision to improve themselves and their organization.

Mahmoud Garad is a Business Development Manager and Business Excellence Consultant at International Performance Excellence. He has a broad experience gained by dealing with several clients across the UAE and Middle East. He is also a EFQM certified assessor conducting organizational assessment using the EFQM model, helping create a customer centric organizations and enrich the workforce environment by focusing on the importance of ‘People’ within organizations


Leave a Reply