'When is it time to move from on-the-job coaching to formal training and professional development? ' from P31 Consulting, LLC

When is it time to move from on-the-job coaching to formal training and professional development?

Posted: May 11, 2018

“What got you here, won’t get you there”, as Marshal Goldsmith observed in his leadership development and coaching book, recognizes what worked for small professional service companies no longer works once they experience tremendous growth in revenues and resources. 

This is particularly true for mid to large size firms attempting to break through to the next level of industry recognition and customer preference. If an apprenticeship / hero model got the firm here, their success is at high risk if they rely on the same model to accommodate their growth. Hiring smart people, having them shadowing and coached by your heroes works well with smaller firms but it does not scale.

What happens to high growth companies who don’t adapt their training and professional development as they grow?

Lack of Standards and Efficiency:

The smart people - hero apprenticeship model introduces more and more variation across the company as the company grows. Heroes develop their own approaches and their apprentices learn those approaches and styles. As the company grows, apprentices need to work across more projects under different heroes. Apprentices spend more and more time adapting (or failing to adapt) to the different approaches and styles. This becomes particularly cumbersome as pool resources work on multiple projects simultaneously and/or move from one hero to another on subsequent projects. Lack of standards and efficiency is further exacerbated as the firm hires or acquires more heroes from different companies.

Standards and efficiency won’t inhibit innovation. In fact, they will free up more time for it. 

Lack of a Standard Brand and Quality:

Initially, the company’s development approach flaws are hidden by high margins and steady demand. A good hero apprentice model staffed with smart people with good technical skills, particularly in specialty areas, produces good results for clients and the company. As the company grows, the model starts to break down. Clues to watch for are project overruns, quality slippage, rework, and strained customer relationships, all of which start to erode the company’s brand, reputation and opportunities for growth.

How can Professional Development help?

As growing companies challenge industry leaders, aspire to significant growth targets or respond to significant demand increases, they can shift the odds in their favor by investing in effective professional development. Formal professional development will ensure consistent efficiency, quality delivery, increased customer satisfaction, greater margins and improved brand equity.

At P31, we work with clients at various stages. Some see the opportunities and threats early, prepare themselves and their people, and reap the rewards. Others postpone the investment, suffer losses and setbacks, and institute professional development as part of a turn-around strategy. Sadly, we have seen other companies postpone development until initial growth targets were achieved. They ignore warning signs and ultimately miss their growth opportunities, damage their customer relationships, suffer increased turnover and employee frustration, all of which contribute to eroding their brand. Moving to formal training and professional development puts your fate back in your own hands.

The P31 Team (info@p31-consulting.com)


How can P31 help?

If you are experiencing high growth or desire to, P31 can help you tailor your current training and professional development to meet your company’s current and future business needs.


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