Why Manage Better?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What, why, who, and when of doing training wrong!

Training employees for them to deliver better results has been a long standing principle of quality management.  Both Juran and Deming and later Ishikawa were very strong proponents of professional training. No one can really deny that training is important and must be done.  My issues are the what, why, who, when of training.

Paul Borwaski, CEO or ASQ, recently shared findings on professional training in quality as part of the ASQ’s Global State of Quality research. I am trying to respond here with my own observations (which is the my interpretation of research J )

What do we train about? And Why?

A lot of people I meet talk about strategic intent in training. We should train employees on what is strategic. It should be a strategic fit. You get what I mean.

We also want return of investment from training. While these are nice words to use, the truth is much more basic. Employee survey after survey shows that staff (the people who actually work!) are not happy with the training they get. While management teams keep arguing around strategic intent and return on investment from training, the recipient is actually worried about improving employability.

If we cannot improve employability of our staff then they will keep saying they need more training etc. Let’s face it. We all are interested in a better job. One way to get there is to be better trained for it. Most such training are expensive or just plain not available in the market. Staff depends on employers to provide this training. Obviously, no one is going to tell us this. They (just like you and i) don’t want employers to know that they are looking for a job. J

We train employees to get something out of them. A return. While this works with some employees (who are more reasonable) it does not work with most. Most employees would want the training they want first and then the training the company wants next. Now, I am not saying that all employees are unreasonable.

Also, I find it very amusing that almost all training these days are called Leadership something…Who is going to do the work? Who will follow if all of us become leaders?

Employers or management don’t train people for the right reasons. We just keep looking for return on investment.

Who gets trained and When?

I have seen a lot of people being selected for training and I notice two trends:

The same people get picked for almost all training

The best people seldom get picked (they are so busy!)

When a good training program is announced, invariably, we are not able to nominate our best people on it. Why? Because they are very busy running the shop. They are the ones who need training to progress in their careers but they won’t get it because they are working hard. Others, who are working lesser and are not as capable, keep getting nominated all the time.

Have you seen this happen? A training is announced and you look around – whom can I send? And the one who has no work gets selected. What is this person going to learn when he/she is anyway not working? They will only add this training on their resume and find another job. You are training your staff for your competition.

When do we train staff – at the end of the year when we realize our budgets are not utilized yet. Wouldn't it better to train employees early in the year? When they can use the training through the year and hopefully deliver results?

What can be done?

I have tried to stay clear of the above abuse of training. I select employees for training early and based on their merit and then ensure that they attend – even if they are busy. You could do the same and much more. If we all pitch in, training could be much more useful and strategic and it may well deliver a return on investment. And yes, our employees will be more employable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would also like to pitch my emphasis to WHY of the training. Why an employee was selected, Why this training is helpful to the individual, Why the employee trained through this training would be useful for the organization, why this subject (only) (i.e. does the employee know what other training programs he/she is expected to undergo and why those additional topics - Is he/she expected to do more efficiently or or more of lateral or vertical tasks or take up more responsibility , and in turn likely to be rewarded more- are several other soft issues that must play conscious part on the subject of the employee's training.