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  • Writer's pictureLaToya V Smith - CEO

Training doesn't matter... until it does!

For many organizations, the approach to employee training lacks formal strategy or framework; both of which help to measure individual and organizational needs against the training provided. Corporate training has historically been provided on a case-by-case basis; primarily being implemented as a result of poor individual performance, a crisis within organizational culture or in an effort to increase revenues or operational efficiency.

This sort of ad-hoc approach to training leads to high levels of frustration and dissatisfaction for employees and management (from first level to executive leadership). Employees see the training as a requirement rather than professional development or competency building. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that employee training is regarded in the same way school-age learners’ think about homework. (Hint: If the training is approached and facilitated as mandatory or required; don’t expect to see much positive change in learners’ behavior or attitude!) 

On the other side of this equation, we have members of management, who believe that employee training is essential to improving job performance and operational safe and efficiency. In their eyes, the proper training has been provided yet there continues to be a disconnection amongst employees. This ensuing gap encompasses inefficiencies in knowledge, skills, aptitude and (I like to add) attitude — KSA&A.

So where do we go from here?

Let’s get back to basics and answer the following questions:

  • What is the leadership vision of the organization?

  • What is your mission?

  • Why did the company founders decide to provide the products and/or services that you do, today?

The answers to these questions will provide a roadmap for both business and training success. Vision, mission and purpose are the focus points that keep us on-track and will ensure that the organization approaches every business challenge with an all encompassing solution (which includes training).

These focus points should also provide the framework for every initiative, employee training goal, performance objective, KPI metric or corporate survey question. They help to establish integrity in each corporate effort.

  • If an effort is made to make changes within corporate culture, does the change help to align with the leadership vision?

  • If processes are being updated, how do these changes help achieve the mission?

  • If products or services are being added or taken away, has leadership strayed away from the roots that helped establish the company?

All good questions; what does any of it have to do with training? (I’m getting to that... don’t worry!)

Getting back to the basics, has always helped with remembering the how and why we try to do things that don’t come naturally to us. Let’s use the following analogies: Tying nautical/sailing knots and speaking a second language. Knot tying and speaking a foreign language are learned activities, not natural behaviors, and require lots of practice before we can master them. When we stray away from practice, we forget the basics. Good luck picking up where you left off once you decide to get back into these activities or if there’s an emergency situation.

Now, let’s compare this to employee training. A new employee (or transferred employee) begins a new job. Though they were brought in because they have the capacity to execute the job effectively, that doesn’t mean that they can perform each task correctly on the first day. The onboarding process or probationary period most likely includes time for orientation and training.

Over the first week or two, the employee learns about the the culture of the organization, its vision, mission and purpose. The employee learns about their new role and responsibilities and why they matter to the organization. “Each task has a purpose and each step is important. Remember your training! Now, go forth make us proud!”

As is often the case, complacency sets in over the next few weeks or months. (Without positive reinforcement, this comes as no surprise.) So what inevitably happens? A missed deadline, a clerical error, a Customer complaint, or worse, an accident.

The consequences? Lost faith in the organization’s capabilities, a decrease in Customer satisfaction, criminal and/or civil lawsuit.

So how does the organization address the issue? Training! And lots of it!

But think about it, why is this “emergency” training effort even necessary?

Remember the knot tying and second language analogy? Why was it important to learn that skill? Maybe knot tying was important because you wanted to learn to sail a boat or go rock climbing. Perhaps the second language was something you found interesting because you wanted to speak with people from foreign countries. And perhaps the reasons for learning both of these things faded over time and didn’t seem important anymore. How helpful would these skills have been in an emergency situation? Could being competent in these skills have helped to avoid an incident?

Sound familiar? The same thing happens with employee training! Both the organization and the individual employee lose sight of vision, mission and purpose; all of which could have been reinforced through initial and ongoing training.

Perhaps now is a good time to review

your organization’s approach to employee training and find the best approach to ensure you follow your corporate vision, accomplish each mission, meet your organizational goals and fulfill your purpose.

Let me know if you need a little help!

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