Articles tagged "Training"
I, of course, love leadership training. However, I find it even more valuable when there's an easy way to double your training take aways without additional cost.
At the conclusion of a leadership training project with a client recently, one of the senior managers said, "In order to keep this learning going, I'm going to pull my notes once a quarter just to see what else I should be working on." I wasn't quite sure what he meant by his comment. When I asked for a clarification, he provided a brilliant insight for me,
With so many companies struggling to attract and retain staff who can perform well, why do so many companies do such a lousy job in training their new staff? Why do they think training is an expense and not an investment? Why do they skimp on something so critical? From my experience, the most common reason is that most companies still default to on-boarding and training new staff the way they were trained when they first started their careers: The new employees are trained on the job by the manager they were going to report to - and s/he wasn't a trainer and didn't have time for someone new who probably wasn't going to stick around anyway. Given that environment, it's not hard to understand why so many new employees just come to work, keep their heads down, try to do their best, ask as few questions as possible, and keep their eyes and ears open for a better job someplace else. So how can this sad reality be changed? How can you attract, train, and retain the quality employees you seek. It's simple. Become smarter in how you train them.
Begin Before You Hire
First - Don't wait until you've hired them to start the training process. Many organizations do this. They don't start to train their new employees until after they hire them. That's often too late! You need to start training your prospective employees before you interview them and especially before you hire them. Why? From their first contact with you, you should be communicating with them and training them on what kind of organization you are, what type of persons you seek as employees, what behaviors you expect of yourselves and all who work with you, and what you expect them to be able to do while they work with you. You do this so they have a clear understanding as to the type of organization they may become a part of and what skills they'll be expected to demonstrate day in and day out. They can then decide if it's the right type of organization and job for them - or not.
To do this, simply make them aware of who you are by simply posting your Values Statement on your website, on any application portals or forms you use, in your offices, lobbies, and anywhere a prospective candidate may come in contact with your organization. Also review these values with all candidates during your interviews with them. Tell them specifically, what behaviors you expect and what standards you hold yourselves and all who work with your organization to uphold. Share with them the specific skills the job currently requires and the skills you anticipate it will require 12-18 months from now. Make it clear the candidates know they will be expected to regularly learn new skills. Next, if you decide to offer jobs to the candidates, you now provide them copies of the Values along with their specific job descriptions. By sharing the Values during their application, interview, and now job offer stages, you've now communicated three different times to your prospective employees - before they're on staff - what to expect of you and what you expect of them.
Also, share with the prospective employees how they will fit into the "big picture." Again, most organizations anticipate employees will simply "get it." Most don't. Therefore, you need to share with your prospective employees the basics of your organization's strategic plan so they know how and where they'll fit in. Share with them a few "sanitized" goals the organization has, goals their department has, and specific individual goals they'd be expected to achieve. All employees are important. Their jobs are important, and they appreciate knowing how and where they'll fit in. This step alone helps them understand how they'll be part of a team - and a part of something bigger than themselves. You've also again clarified the organization's expectations of them. However, be aware, that by clarifying your expectations during the application and interviewing processes, you will probably cause a few candidates to self-select themselves out. That's fine. When that happens, it enables you to focus your time on talking with and meeting with the remaining candidates who may well thrive in your environment and the specific jobs - because they know what is expected.
Orientations are Essential
Second - Once on staff, provide new staff with a helpful on-boarding and new staff training process. Provide new staff with a basic orientation to the organization. Help them learn the basic logistics of the facilities, general flow and inter-relationships of people and departments, and who to see for support and guidance. This is often the second mistake in training organizations make. They forget the orientation process and just assume new employees will "pick things up". They will. But what are they picking up and from whom? As managers, you need to create and provide smart employee orientations to your employees and not leave this critical step to chance.
Finally - Provide them either basic or very specific job skills training to allow them to successfully perform the jobs they were hired to do. Sadly, this is the only aspect of training most organizations think of or provide when they train their new employees. If this is the only element of job training you provide, can you see how you've created an environment where your employees only see one small aspect of the big picture? Can you see why your employees don't provide input for solving problems within the organization? Can you see why your employees don't have a clue what goes on with your customers and in other departments? Can you see how you've created an environment employees don't feel a part of and don't want to stay in?
If you want to start attracting and retaining good long-term trusted employees, don't skimp on when and how you train them. Start creating an environment they want to be a part of.
Start training them before they're your employees. Start training them to start retaining them.
This past month has been an amazing time. We have facilitated planning sessions and have provided management training programs to several clients on topics ranging from Strategic Planning to Enhancing Communications. Each group, without exception, voiced their concern over their organization's current inadequate training for new staff to those in management positions. Each group, of their own accord, acknowledged inadequate knowledge sharing from "veteran" employees to less-experienced staff. Each group independently stated their most important management role now was to focus on developing their employees and thereby ensuring the future of their organizations. In order to help themselves, they need to develop others.
What I find interesting about this is that each group understands this need and believes in it completely. Each group has made this a primary goal for their respective organizations.
Developing others and providing consistent, focused training is not just a feel-good idea they're putting on paper and then filing away.
Each client group has determined without a concerted effort to provide better training, career growth opportunities, and an environment employees want to be a part of, their ability to attract, hire, and retain good employees will become virtually impossible.
Recent studies have highlighted the deep dissatisfaction many long-term employees in lower to mid-level management positions have stems from being over-looked and underutilized. New global studies are also showing that workers, at all staff levels, are most satisfied with their jobs when they see opportunities for growth and career development.
If employees are most satisfied with their jobs when they see future career opportunities for themselves and have opportunities to learn, grow, and do more, what has held so many organizations back from focusing on and providing training and career development programs before?
A long-held belief has been that training and career development were the responsibilities of the Human Resources Department (HR) and not of every member of the management team. The Human Resources Department hasn't been able to do this successfully alone. HR should orchestrate the effort, but every manager and supervisor needs to be a key player in the overall training design, planning, and employee development process.
With the dedicated support of all managers and supervisors, how could a focused employee training and development program fail? With all managers and supervisors intently focused on enhancing the skills and career opportunities of their employees, how could employees not feel supported? With an organization focused on developing its entire employee population, how could it not help itself?
If your organization needs help, consider developing your staff; they are your organization's future.
According to the US Labor Department “by 2008 the growth of the U.S. Workforce is projected to drop to near zero and remain at that level for the next 25 years. This is the consequence of a vast exodus of 79 million U.S. baby boomers who will retire from the workforce between 2010 and 2015. Hiring new employees will become more problematic as wages increase for the fewer people with the right skills."*
Pretty sobering isn't it? However, for anyone paying attention to the news for the past several years, this should not be new information—just a reaffirmation of more challenges coming our way as employers. So how do we confront it?
Provide an environment our employees want to be a part of—now and in the future.
We need to continue to create business environments our employees want to come to and participate in on a regular basis, versus a job they do not look forward to each and every day. If they dread coming to work, they certainly will stop coming when they can retire or some other company lures them away with more money. We can improve our work environment for our employees through a number of ways depending upon what our respective organization and employees need.
- Clean up the place. This sounds petty to many, but I can't tell you the number of times I have had to strongly recommend to clients that before they spend any money on consultants and other experts to fix their employees, they would increase their return on any such investment if they first cleared away the gathered clutter, bought filing cabinets, threw away broken equipment that was stockpiled in corners, organized their inventory and supplies, and hired a janitorial service to regularly clean the facility—particularly the restrooms.
- Hold all employees (including ourselves) accountable to abide by the Values of our company—day in and day out. Again, this sounds touchy-feely to some of you, but after working with various organizations for 20 years, I have seen the attitudes and focus in employees shift positively when they know and understand what standards of performance and behavior they will be held to and then are.
Provide continuous, serious training to our current employees to keep them engaged, in step with technology, and learning new aspects of our business' operations.
A recent study by Korn/Ferry showed that 51% of the executives surveyed indicated they were at least "Likely" to choose a different career field, because it provided the possibility of learning something new. Other studies are also indicating that more people nearing retirement are planning to continue to work, at least on a part-time basis, to keep engaged, learning, and current. Given this, doesn't it make sense to provide additional opportunities for our employees to learn new and challenging skills with us instead of having one of our competitors hire them away?
Again, there are no easy answers. But if we start to prepare now for the serious challenges ahead, our employees can (and will) collaborate with us to find strong solutions to the shrinking labor pool.
* “Balance Short-Term Profit with Long-Term Investment in Human Capital” Benefits & Compensation Digest (July 2006)