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Return on Investment - better known as ROI - is a critical business indicator. Businesses live or die based on their ROI.

Business investors rightfully demand to know the projected ROI of every investment in order to decide whether to put their money on the table. At best, ROI is always an estimate of some sort - a projection, a poll, a pro forma. Whichever estimating method is used, the goal is to reduce risk and make sure each investment has a healthy ROI so as to keep the business profitable.

ROI is typically used to evaluate investments in technology, capital improvements, equipment and facilities. And yet, while businesses proudly tout their most valuable asset as ‘their people', have you ever heard any of them brag about the tremendous ROI they received on their latest investment in their employees?!

Why don't businesses invest in their people with the same zeal and financial scrutiny they use when in investing in a new piece of equipment? Here is some of the reasoning I have heard:

- The people we train might leave the company.
- We're just too busy.
- The time isn't right.
- We don't have the money.
- I've invested before and it didn't pay off.

Let's examine each reason (or excuse) a bit deeper:

- They might leave the company. If you're concerned employees will leave and take their valuable training with them, set up an agreement that they will stay for a set period of time after their training, and that if they do leave prior to that time period, they'll pay back a prorated portion of the tuition. Alternately, know that you helped someone grow and that it was time for them to move on.

- We're just too busy. This is a tired excuse for not setting priorities, investing in the long-term success of the company, and ignoring the most powerful employee retention tools you have available. Money spent boosting your employees’ effectiveness will reduce busyness, increase productivity, and result in happier employees who stay longer with the company.

- The time isn't right. Frankly, the timing is never right!

There are always reasons why the timing isn't right. It takes courage and a little risk to drive a stake in the ground, take action, and know that your people will deliver far more value than what you invest in their development.

- We don't have the money. Ah, my favorite!

If I asked you to give me $1,000 and I guaranteed you that in one year I would give you $4,000, would you give me the cash? You bet you would!

Every person I work with experiences this type of ROI for themselves and their company. In fact, if you can find me that type of investment, I'd go borrow the money and give you $10,000!

- I've invested before and it didn't pay off. Boy, are you right! Many training programs just don't work.

There are lots of buyers who are stingy with the money and buy low quality training products. And lots of trainers who are out their peddling training programs that they know don't work.

Find a credible provider with a people development process that delivers long-term results. Don't take their word for it. Ask for verifiable data for the past five years to prove what they say is true.

Have I got that data? You better believe it!

The bottom line truth is that your people are your most valuable asset. If your business is to be successful, your most valuable asset must be as high performing as possible. Find a process that works and that delivers a high ROI, and go for it!

Joe Farcht is the founder and president of Leadership Advantage, Inc. His purpose for living is to develop and coach leaders, executives, managers, and supervisors to new levels of performance and success in their work and life. He is the author of the book Building Personal Leadership: Inspirational Tools & Techniques for Work & Life. Learn more at Leadership Advantage, Inc Please contact Joe at joefarcht@cox.net or at 602 996-1802.

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