By CityTownInfo.com Staff
February 11, 2009
Despite cutbacks in every industry, companies are investing in leadership training programs for their employees, believing that strong management is crucial to economic recovery.
The Wall Street Journal reports that companies such as Philips Electronics will be offering its annual Inspire program for 30 employees. The program will focus on business strategy and personal leadership. Although the program's budget has been trimmed, Philips officials still consider it too essential to be cut completely.
Bret Furio, senior vice president of consumer lifestyle for Philips Electronics, told The Wall Street Journal that while grooming leaders is important in good times, at times when the economy is struggling "it's imperative."
Nevertheless, business schools are feeling the budget cuts as companies send fewer employees and order fewer programs. David Newkirk, CEO of executive education for the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, told The Wall Street Journal that many companies are delaying training programs for months as they keep tabs on expenses.
But many employers are proceeding with leadership development. Estee Lauder, which recently announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs over the next two years, will be sending 60 executives to a summer program at Vassar College for a week focusing on innovation and managing change. The amount of participants reflects the company's efforts to cut costs; typically, 120 employees attend.
The emphasis on leadership development during a recession is a significant change. According to Yaarit Silverstone, global managing director at consulting firm Accenture Ltd., when companies cut such programs during economic downturns, midlevel managers left after the economy recovered. As a result, executives now believe that capable management is crucial for coming through a recession.
The focus on leadership development - albeit with budget cuts - is evident throughout the country. This week, Embassy Suites announced its Circle of Leadership program for a group of 10 managers. The company last year hosted a training camp for team members, but in a nod to the economy, this year's program consists of seven monthly webinars.
Rick McCue, vice president of brand performance and support at Embassy Suites Hotels, explained that the program reaps enormous benefits. "Our retention rates are rising across the brand and more importantly, our owners are big proponents of growing and nurturing our culture for the success of our hotels," he noted.
And Canon USA will be offering training in strategic decision-making and influencing employees. David Metzger, Canon USA's director of management development, explained the company's rationale to The Wall Street Journal.
"Certainly times are tough," he said, "but we recognize that employee development needs to continue."