By Koketso Mamabolo
It was while working on communication strategies for businesses in various sectors that Michael Gullan, founder and CEO of G&G Advocacy, identified a gap in the market. “While working in these regulated industries we identified the need –– amongst many of the large corporates –– for effective e-learning solutions to upskill and reskill their people, suppliers, and customers.”
Marketing and communications was where Michael began his career, which is no wonder considering that his father owned an ad agency. Michael would join his father at the office “drawing and playing in the studio”. He went on to study advertising and marketing. He applied his skills to industry such as sports and hospitality.
“But in my heart, I was an entrepreneur and wanted my own business. My first start-up was a skin care brand, which gained reasonable success and which I sold when I met my current business partner (and wife), and we founded G&G Digital.”
Michael sees the benefit that adult education can offer to businesses and the economy and after looking at the market he realised “how incomplete and ineffectual many e-learning solutions are, and so G&G Advocacy was founded.
We find out from Michael how e-learning can benefit businesses, what businesses are looking to focus on when it comes to training employees and more.
What is the purpose that drives you?
I founded G&G Advocacy to make a positive impact on our client’s businesses by transforming their employees into a high-performance team that works together effectively to achieve their personal career goals, and the organisation’s goals. I believe that education and skills are powerful and want to close the large knowledge and skills gap that exists in our country.
The fact that learning and development also assists organisations to be more efficient, effective, and competitive, is also important, but what we achieve at an individual level is deeply fulfilling. We can, “teach a woman to fish,” and then set her free to be a powerful force for good for herself and her organisation.
I’m deeply in love with this country and her people. We have so much potential as a nation. We never stand still, we are nimble, highly adaptable and pick ourselves up after challenges. South Africans are innately passionate about continuous learning, we’re not afraid of growing and G&G Advocacy was founded to facilitate this passion.
How can e-learning help a business’ employees?
Effective and strategic e-learning creates a dynamic environment where employees of all levels embrace a philosophy of learning and ongoing individual development. Nothing stands still and no process, person, or team is static. No matter the organisation’s size, an effective e-learning programme will ensure your employees have the skills, information, and experience to meet your business goals and outperform your competitors.
- Employees and leaders are always on top of new information, processes, and industry information.
- Employees are empowered to upskill and further their careers within their existing organisation and not seek employment elsewhere.
- Employees are skilled, informed and confident to think independently, make decisions, and drive their careers forward.
- Learning material is easy to access, from any device, any time, and always up to date and relevant.
- Learning is tailored to employees’ time-sliced lives and makes use of Content CapsulesTM to ensure they’re not weighed down by reams of static content, bored by lengthy PDFs or zoning out having to watch generic video content.
Why should businesses be upskilling in-house instead of merely finding the staff with the right skills?
There are several reasons for upskilling existing employees rather than always searching for the right skills.
Promote and keep top performers
Rather than lose star performers to your competitors, e-learning means you can upskill and promote them to ensure they’re prepared for their new roles, are poised for success and ready for whatever challenges might come their way. Good employees will stay at organisations that have no ceilings, where the sky’s the limit.
Employees know your business best
Your employees already have the core competencies and the investment in teaching them new skills far out ways the time and investment in onboarding and upskilling new recruits. No new employee can “hit the ground running” no matter how skilled or experienced they are. There is always an onboarding and learning phase that has been estimated at least six months. An existing employee can learn a new set of skills and responsibilities and outperform a recruit in a fraction of that time.
Reduce the risk of errors
New employees often, innocently, make errors, break regulations and forget procedures, which can set your organisation back and cause reputational damage with your customers. Also, any new policies or policy changes can be easily taught and integrated with your existing team.
Deploy employees to other departments
Sometimes an employee’s expertise is not aligned with their current responsibilities, in which case, a reskilling programme can shift their professional focus to another related department. Such employees remain valuable contributors to your organisation, stay loyal and become internal champions for a positive culture.
New recruits need new skills
New employees may ace their interviews and – on paper – have all the right skills to perform their responsibilities and duties, but often let their organisation’s down as they lack experience, skills, and attitude you require. Upskilling existing employees and building on what you already have will be beneficial in the short, medium, and long term.
Perform better, faster
Every existing employee is part of your organisation’s foundation and without that foundation, growth becomes challenging. It’s always best to have the skills in place so you are ready for rapid growth.
In your experience with clients, what learning areas are businesses most focused on? And what learning areas should businesses focus on?
Every organisation’s learning needs are different and unique, that said, we’re seeing the following common themes amongst our clients,
- Onboarding new employees
- Upskilling and reskilling employees on business processes and changes
- Improving knowledge and service levels
- Enhancing leadership and people skills
- Educating on industry policies and staying compliant
- Remaining aligned with global partners
- Building and nurturing internal and third-party advocates – such as consultants or B2B2C intermediaries, franchisees
- Technical training
- Product training
What are the challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
Being an entrepreneur comes with many challenges, especially during the early years. My biggest challenge was having to do too many things in my business and not have the time to do a few things well. When I was able to hire passionate professionals who are focused and skilled, I became free to focus on doing what I do well and am passionate about. After all, when we do what we love, we do it well and never work another day in our lives. With G&G Advocacy I have found my calling, my why, which means I no longer wake up and go to work–– I wake up and do what I love.
What skills have been important for the success of your business?
At G&G we believe in perfect skills, which is why we employ experts in every aspect of our business – from learning strategists, instructional designers, specialist writers, development specialists, project managers and analysts. By doing so, we can offer our clients the most informed and effective solutions, as well as passionate and professional customer services. We turn learning into a powerful business asset for our clients.
As we have designed and developed our own custom learning platform, which is unique to any other platform available in South Africa (and the world), our development and innovation teams are vital to ensuring our technical product leads the way in terms of functionality, analytics, rich and rewarding learning content delivery, gamification capabilities, user-experience, and a robust client dashboard. Without our platform and the incredible team driving it, we would not have achieved the success we have in such a short time.
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