Why not Train them?

Ever wonder where clichés like throwing the baby out with the bath water and putting cart before the horse came from? What do they mean?

Well this has been a pretty busy week in terms of lessons learned. By the way, did you know that cat’s paws cannot tell the difference between hot and cold? I didn’t. In the AEC environment it’s just as difficult to determine between a good lay off and a bad one.

Last night I found out that one of my fellow marketers was laid off from her marketing position at a leading construction firm. I also found out that the firm is actually closing down its Orlando office and moving out of the State of Florida. This is not the first story of this type that I have heard over the past three months either.

During my recent employment as a Marketing Manager with a large construction firm I found myself working up to 75 hours a week keeping up with proposal submissions and miscellaneous marketing demands. Although I tried for 12 months to convince upper management to allow me to cross-train within the firm to help relieve the workload without hiring new employees, it never happened. Instead they hired a young graphic artist straight out of design school with no industry or marketing experience. So not only did I still have the same workload, but I had to train a new person as well.

This morning I had a discussion with a friend about the economic situation and how it is affecting the AEC industry. We were discussing how many of the AEC firms were making the decision to let their marketing and business development staff go in exchange for keeping on field personnel. In an economic environment where firms are struggling to win new work to keep field personnel busy, where is the sense in letting the very people go that are knowledgeable in developing the proposals needed to win the work? It’s the epitome of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are other options.

So why is it that firm’s cannot see the benefit of cross training? Cross training is good for managers, because it provides more flexibility in managing the workforce to get the job done. Done right, cross training is good for the employees too. It lets them learn new skills, makes them more valuable, and boosts moral. More importantly, cross training of marketing responsibilities within a firm strengthens the firm’s marketing message further strengthening the firms branding within the industry. Cross training would solve the dilemma of putting the cart before the horse.

Until next time…neighbor

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