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HR Toolkit: Idea of the Week

Why Is It That Training Never Gets a Seat at the Table?

Contributor: Glenn Pasch
Posted: 05/20/2010

Lately, I’ve been going to a lot of events. I just hit my 3rd in two weeks. At each event there are breakout sessions and roundtables to discuss relevant issues to business.

I’ve been in sessions about Social Media, Workforce Management, Outsourcing, Inventory Control, Cloud Computing, Government Affairs, Vendor Management and about 10 other topics. But not one table dedicated to training.

Okay, so maybe one event skipping management training is okay, but all three?

Then I’ve been going over the list of topics and speakers for yet another event and when I asked if training would be considered, I got a polite "That’s a possibility" response.

I know, management training is my thing, but still I wonder, why are so many businesses not addressing training as a valued process for employees?

Is it because training is not flashy? It’s not the shiny new object like "social media?" Is it because the ROI is more long term and not a quick fix?

If you look more closely, you’ll find case study after case study of companies who confirm that a laser focus on training is an integral part of their long-term success. And there are just as many, if not more, case studies of companies who fell apart because they did not place any importance on a consistent training strategy.

What is holding your company back from committing to support and improve your employees with consistent training? Maybe you think the financial cost is too high. Maybe you are afraid that if people are training, they’re not selling, not producing…not putting the foot on the gas.

I’m not saying that in order to "train" you have to take everyone off the sales floor for hours at a time.

Training can happen anywhere and should happen each day in little increments.

A skilled manager can turn a casual conversation over coffee into a quiz about problem solving by simply asking his employee’s opinion on how to handle a specific issue. A savvy GM can refocus his salesperson by subtly asking what deals they are trying to push this month. A restaurant manager can chat up the new waiter on what ingredients come in a certain dish.

These are all quick and subtle ways for upper management to engage and train their employees at the same time. And these interactions take less than 5 minutes.

Some people might say that the employee should know this stuff. They’ve had their initial training. Why bother to constantly double check?

Think about it this way. If you have two teachers in school and you know one always checks homework and the other never does, whom do you work harder for? Exactly. The one who checks.

So what do you think your employees are doing? If no one checks on what they are supposed to know or be doing on a consistent basis, then why bother to perform at their best each day? This only leads to a slow declining performance that you may not see until it is too late.

Here are 5 GREAT reasons for continued training

  1. Keeps employees focused. The more you train, the more it is in the front part of their brain. It gives them new information, new ways to think about their job and keeps it from becoming robotic or taken for granted.
  2. Open dialogue. Find out what is working and what is not working on the front lines. Just because upper management thinks it works, you need to hear what your people in the trenches are saying in order to make adjustments.
  3. The whole team improves, not just the "self-motivated." If everyone feels they have to be on their toes, then those who are not as talented have to work harder. Also, if you do not push everyone consistently, the best performers get tired of carrying everyone else and eventually their performance drops off too.
  4. Costs are streamlined. Time wasted is removed from the equation. If people are on their toes and processes are constantly reviewed, then everyone become more efficient with their execution, thus saving time and money.
  5. Processes become streamlined so new hire training is more effective. If processes are documented and everyone is following the same format, no one is forced to just do it "Bob’s" way when someone else does it "Mary’s" way. There is only one way and you are not wasting resources on something that could have been prevented.

Companies need to grasp that training is not just about attending a seminar, or simply in-classroom sessions. It is something that can and should happen each day.

It’s okay to always keep your foot on the gas, but make sure everyone is following the same map and heading in the same direction. When this happens, then training will take its rightful seat at the head table. Right next to the CEO.

Contributor: Glenn Pasch
Posted: 05/20/2010