Selection & Training
Presented at
National Wholesale Druggist Association Conference
March 5-8, 1996 Atlanta, GA


Dr. Charles R. Crowell
University of Notre Dame

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I'm happy to be here to discuss some very important issues related to organizational development in general and sales force development in particular.

Since I'm from Notre Dame, you can correctly assume that I am a football fan. As many coaches have said over the years, football is not just a game. It can teach you a lot about life. One insight about the game that is directly relevant to our topic today came from a coach who once said "When the quarterback drops back to pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad." By the way, in case you are wondering, it wasn't Knute Rockne who said this, although he did made a lot of notable comments about football. In this case, it was Darryl Royal from the University of Texas. His remark reflects some real insight into the game.

And it pertains to selection and training as well. When organizations conduct selection and training, a number of things can happen and, unfortunately, many of them are bad. What I'd like to talk about today are some ways to minimize or eliminate most of these bad things.

Why is it important to talk about selection and training? The main reason is because they are such an important part of what organizations do. I've worked with many, many companies, small and large, over the last 20 years and, inevitably, I hear the same comment from the Personnel office, the Human Resources division, and even from the Sales department. They say: "Two of our most important questions are:

  1. Who should we hire?; and
  2. How should we develop them into productive employees?"

Often, there are standard answers to these questions. In the first case, it is usually thought that prospective employees should be put under some type of magnifying glass to look for character flaws, personality disturbances or other unattractive traits. If nothing bad shows up, they may be good candidates for the job.

The answer to the second question usually involves training. The thinking here is: If you give them enough training, employees are bound to be productive.

The problem with both answers stems from a common misconception about the root cause of organizational success and the real reason you hire people in the first place.

Copyright (C) Charles R. Crowell, Ph.D., 1996
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