Is investing really worth it?


When you invest in something (time, money, energy) you generally get better (or more predictable) results than if you don’t invest, or leave things to chance.

While there are many examples of this in life, here’s the situation that inspired this post.

When I travel, I normally get a rental car.  I like the convenience and flexibility it provides, but it’s not always practical. That was the case last week when I traveled to West Palm Beach for the Florida Attractions Association conference. (More insights from the conference to come).  During my 4 days at this particular conference, I didn’t need to go anywhere outside of the hotel, and therefore didn’t want to spend the money on valet parking since the car would just be sitting there for 4 days.  So, my transportation to and from the hotel would be the shuttle provided by the hotel.

After picking up my luggage at baggage claim, I went to the meeting spot where all hotel shuttles were to meet their passengers.  I saw shuttles from other hotels and car rental services go by, but not mine.  So I waited.

And waited.

While I thought I had read that the shuttle ran on a regular schedule, it occurred to me that maybe that wasn’t about THIS hotel shuttle.  Hmmm…. maybe I should go ahead and call?

So I called.  I spoke to Elvis (at the hotel, not THE Elvis).  He told me that the shuttle should be there in about 15 minutes, and to watch for a large, black van with the hotel’s name on the front.  I said, “thank you, Elvis.  Thank you very much.”

As I waited, this is when the concept of investment ran through my brain. Had I spent the money on a rental car or even a cab, I would likely be at the hotel by now.  Instead, I am at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.

Once the shuttle arrived, I was told we had to pick someone else up at the executive airport nearby.  After we got there, we found out that the person to be picked up was at the regular airport after all, so back there we go, all before heading to the hotel itself.

Before we go any further, this is not a complaint about the hotel shuttle service, or the fact that I had to wait.  The driver was actually very pleasant and the van was well appointed and clean.  This is actually just an observation of the results we get when we invest in something versus when we don’t.

It’s very much like that quote that makes the rounds every few years.  You know the one….

The CFO is implying that it would be a waste of time, money and resources to develop their people if they are just going to fly to coop.  And that may happen.  Another question to ask is, “what if, by developing people, you actually get them to stay?”

I think this investment argument works with employees, relationships, hobbies, projects, you name it.  The more you put in, the more you get out.

And how many of us struggle with and complain about the lack of consistency we see in the behavior of our employees?  Have we invested ENOUGH to get the kind of predictable excellence we are striving for?  Here’s what I mean:

Many companies put a lot of emphasis on training new hires.  Great – there is a lot they need to know.  But, how many of those companies INVEST in season-long learning strategies?  I don’t have any official data to share on that, but from the people I talk to, the number is quite low. Part of the problem is when we look at our seasonal staff as temporary.  Sure they will only be on payroll for a few months, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be trained and developed so they can help the company be successful for years to come.  The experience of being groomed for the next level could be the difference between someone coming back for another season or you having one more spot to fill.

Of course the other option is to do your training up front and hope for the best the rest of the season.  It’s your choice.

In all of this, there is a fundamental understanding that “investing” is different than “spending”.  Spending implies a commodity transaction with little or no long-term return on that spend.  Investing assumes there will be a calculated output in proportion to your input.  Both can refer to money, time, resources, etc.  If we look at the quote above, maybe the CFO is thinking that it’s a waste to spend the money developing people… there will be no appreciable return in his mind.  Maybe the problem is that he doesn’t really know what that return would actually look like.

For me, I’ve seen the results when we invest in our people.  They are more confident, engaged, motivated, and willing to help out when the chips are down.  And while it could take an investment of money to make this happen (in the form of additional development resources, not just a wage increase) it’s also our investment of time. Time to communicate, to coach, to listen, and to set the example of how you want your team to behave.

So if you would like more predictable excellence, investing in your team definitely IS worth it!

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 and has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.

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