OPINION: Train to stop the brain drain

Maree McDonough
By Maree McDonough | 31 October 2012
Maree McDonough, Managing Director, GroupM Asia Pacific

When was the last time you attended a training session?

As I delivered our internal Leadership workshop last week, I expressed to the group that the first time I attended a leadership training workshop I had been in the business for 20 years and a leader for over 10. In fact, the very first training program I ever attended was a Presentation Skills course when I worked at Clemenger, seven years into my career.  

That got me thinking about how things have changed since then. Speaking for the GroupM agencies, I can say things have changed a lot. With a team of 10 dedicated talent and development staff, and the support of over 50 trained trainers in Australia alone means all staff from entry level to senior level have equal opportunities to attend workshops to further their development.  

The MFA is also doing great work in coordinating training for the industry as a whole, running workshops throughout the year.

So does this mean that developing our people is more important now than it was 10 or 20 years ago? The answer, of course, is no. Training has always been hugely important. Back in the 1960s, US psychologist Frederick Herzberg identified personal growth as a key motivator in the workplace, and studies continue to confirm this to be still true today.

What has changed though is the dynamics – 20 years ago, most of our training was delivered ‘on the job’. Our line managers took responsibility for teaching us the ‘tricks of the trade’. (I remember being sent to my desk to work out the 30-second conversion of a TV plan which had equal mix of 15/30/45 and 60-second executions, and not to come back till I had worked it out. Luckily I could ring one of my earlier mentors, John Sintras, to help me out!)

In 2012, ‘on the job’ training is still a key responsibility for any leader, and they should be spending at least 20% of their time doing this. We live in a world in which we are constantly battling for talent, coupled with the incredibly fast pace of change. Therefore, we are faced with an even greater need to grow and develop our own, ensuring they are fast-tracked and most importantly set up to succeed in their current and future roles. 

To ensure we recruit and retain the best talent to deliver the best product for our clients, we must provide all employees with a clear personal development plan that clearly outlines what ‘on the job’ and ‘off the job’ training they need to succeed. 

So, to ask again: When was the last time you attended a training session? The answer should be: “I am in training every day!”

GroupM invests heavily in training and recently gained recognition when our Aspire Learning and Development team won four external L&D awards at the 2012 Asia L&D awards and Asia Best Employer Brand awards.

For GroupM chairman & CEO John Steedman, training is the number one issue facing our industry. “Training our talent is a key ingredient to GroupM’s success, both here in Australia and throughout the regional network. Personal development and career pathing are key motivators for staff and, importantly, retention,” he says.

“I have always been an advocate of investment in people and training in my role, both regionally and here in Australia. Training is our fourth largest investment line and will continue to be, through good and bad times. It pays dividends – trust me!”

Maree McDonough
Managing Director
GroupM Asia Pacific

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