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When budgets get cut, how do you handle investing in your people?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When budgets get cut, how do you handle investing in your people?

  • All training and development is the first thing we cut: 15%
  • We cut some training and development but leave critical stuff in place: 28%
  • We cut some “nice to have” training but really protect the core offerings: 40%
  • We cut elsewhere because people are truly our most important resource: 16%

Continue investing in people. It’s encouraging to see a strong commitment to training even in the face of economic challenges. Your people always need to grow and develop. You made a commitment to help them do that on the day you hired them. They see it when you take those things away and it enters their decision-making process as to where they want to work the next day. Understand there is a huge cost to pulling back on their development. Their performance will eventually suffer. That will spill over into your business’ performance. That will lead to worse economic performance and more budget cuts. The downward cycle is obvious. Do all you can to protect your investments in your people. Your competitors are. They’re also telling your people to come join them in an organization that continues to invest in development. Investing in people is one of the wisest decisions you can make.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”