Yesterday a friend emailed with this question:

My nephew is stuck with an employer whose idea of training is “go read this book.”  Not what a very bright, motivated history major needs when looking to become a successful sales rep in a consultative business such as technology.... He’s looking for a company that understands the value of good training, and views it as an investment, not just an expense.  His long term objective is to become a sales rep who works with clients and prospects in a consultative manner to solve business problems, not just someone who flogs product and writes orders.

I love a relative rookie looking to learn almost as I love questions that make me think of why one organization might be more interesting to work for than another. Here are five companies that care, each very differently, about employee development. Zappos got my first vote. They think very strategically about how they run the business and treat their people. Tony Hsieh, their CEO said this in a Huffington Post article:

Rather than focusing on individuals as assets, we instead focus on building as our asset a pipeline of people in every single department with varying levels of skills and experience, ranging from entry level all the way up through senior management and leadership positions. Our vision is for almost all of our hires to be entry level, but for the company to provide all the training and mentorship necessary so that any employee has the opportunity to become a senior leader within the company within five to seven years.

Those of us who don’t work for Zappos can still learn the Zappos way through their zapposinsights.com activities. BadgevilleBunchball, andLithium were also on my list of companies for my friend’s nephew. I don’t know much about their internal practices, but gamification (their niche), may change how we think about work and learning. Looking at their client lists might be a good way to identify some proactive organizations. Nucor is always top of mind when I think of companies that understand the value of training. In the steel industry, if training isn’t taken seriously, people can die.Nucor’s wikipedia article describes their founding and unique (sad that it’s unique) approach to management. This prior post focuses more on their approach to training.

  • What other organizations should be on this list of companies that see training and employee growth as strategically important? These organizations may not even have a training department, they just need to have employee development be critically important to their success.
  • Anyone in the market for a sales rep who's willing to learn?