Collaboration and Creativity are keys to Training

29 December 2017

To recruit and retain new personnel, the timber industry must move training from the tried and tested, and refocus on ways to fully realise the potential of its employees. Donaldson Timber Engineering business development director and 2017 TTJ Career Development Award winner Luke Roberts writes

I’ve no doubt that training is a way to secure the future of the timber industry and the companies we work for.

However, there needs to be a shift in the way we approach training, not only to ensure that we keep up with an ever-changing world but, more importantly, to attract and retain the people that will help drive our industry forward.

We must move away from the idea of looking for ways of making new versions of tried and tested processes and technologies. We must move towards encouraging creative thinking, collaboration and emotional intelligence.

How did I come to this conclusion? Training. A few years ago I undertook a diploma in applied management at Warwick University. I felt that I had already developed into a good manager and this course would just hone my skill sets. I could not have been more wrong.

What this course actually showed me was the limitations of my management skills. It opened the door to an endless number of approaches, ideas and theories, and the realisation that a good manager is someone who can help people achieve their full potential. And that’s their potential not only as individuals, but as members of a team who can communicate, collaborate and solve problems by thinking outside the box.

There is no doubt that this experience allowed me to emotionally mature as a person and as a manager. I’ve since focused on using and passing on the training I received, allowing the people within my team to develop.

What this produced for me was something we’re all looking for in our lives – time. I was then able to reinvest that time in my role and my team. Without it I don’t think I would have developed to the position I find myself within Donaldson Timber Engineering.

Promoted this year to business development director, I am now in a position to pass on my ideas and approaches to even more people within the company. Along with this, I was offered the opportunity to act as mentor on James Donaldson’s flagship training course for assistant general managers.

Donaldson’s are investing a lot of time and money on this course and for me it could not be better spent. Equipping the future managers of our business is essential to securing our company’s future. I intend to take this opportunity to develop and prepare these employees for the years ahead.

Increased automation is where our industry is heading, bringing greater consistency in products and costs. But companies looking to be market leaders in the future need to start investing in the present and not only in machines. The key investment needs to be in people and, more importantly, in training for people. In the future, companies will require people who can adapt, think creatively and collaborate.

My advice is start today, because you are already playing catch-up.

Luke Roberts