Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Are You Complicating Your Employee Training Decisions?

I gotta say I've been around the block a few times when it comes to employee training. For those reading who are not familiar with my background, the short story is I've conducted several thousand professional development seminars though-out North America over the past 15 years. If you want the long story, here's my bio.

Through that experience here's a key conclusion I've drawn -- we over complicate employee training and development and therefore waste a tremendous amount of money. 

I believe there are several reasons why, which I'll address in upcoming posts. For now, I'd like to present a simple perspective on how to view and make decisions regarding basic employee training.

Before I do, I want to quickly make the distinction between training and development (a distinction our industry desperately needs to make).  I've experienced that in most cases when people use the word "training" what they really mean is the act of learning -- that is taking in new information. What they might be hoping for is development -- skill acquisition and/or behavior change.  We all know learning "about" a skill, does not a skill make.  That's why making this distinction as we plan our talent training and development strategy and spend our precious dollars is so important! So as you continue reading, I'll be making that distinction by referencing employee training as learning seminars.

The Simple Perspective
I had the great fortune of working with a national public seminar company for which I delivered many topics. During the course of my time with them, I came to realize that related to key soft skills in the context of work performance, no matter what the topic was it all came down to just a few key themes. Additionally, a lot of the essential content could be repeated no matter the topic.

So, in working with private clients both in delivering learning seminars and one/one performance coaching, I've come to the conclusion that there are in fact basic individual employee competencies that should be a fundamental part of any company's employee training/learning plan. 

I'd like to present them via 4 questions and then the recommended behavior theme and corresponding learning seminar (in some cases the theme and the learning seminar topic are the same):

1). Can and in what way (style, attitudes, behavior) will they do their job...will they get the results desired? - execute key deliverables in the time allotted? - driven by how they think and behave

Behavior theme & learning seminar topics : self management, personal motivation = emotional intelligence (EQ)  | getting results/desired outcomes =  time & productivity management | ownership of work product, personal commitment to engagement = personal/professional branding | ability to learn, think, problem solve = creative, innovative, critical thinking

Part B of this is - can and/or are they using technology competently and efficiently to do that work

2). Can they work effectively with others?  understanding, respecting and learning to work with different work styles, personalities = emotional intelligence, team collaboration | rapport & relating style = communication

3). Can they be lead? (an element of #2) e.g. work well with authority / leadership - relationship to authority = EQ

4). Can they and are they willing to add value in ways beyond their job description? personal values = personal/professional branding | situational leadership = holistic leadership | EQ

5) Can they effectively communicate in writing. (Employees spend 70% of their time writing -- that is communicating in written form.)

In summary, beyond the question is someone capable of doing a job based on executing the functions of the job, you can see that success in any role (even at a management level) can be broken down to (assuming they are the right fit for the job)... "can I and am I willing to manage myself to get results and can I and am I willing to work constructively with others?"...and do I know how to...?

In my experience I am completely convinced that setting performance expectations through key, required learning seminars can help to minimize a lot of employee management challenges and provide support and a baseline for coaching and managing that performance for supervisors/managers.

In summary, if you had to choose what learning seminars to spend your precious budget on here's what the topics should be: 

1. Personal - Professional Branding => ownership, engagement, personal empowerment, individual leadership

2a. Time & Productivity Management => get it done, get results
2b. Using software/technology efficiently

3. Emotional Intelligence => work effectively with others, can be managed, lead

4. Team Collaboration (aka team building) => work effectively with different work styles/personalities

5. Creative & Innovative Thinking => learning to think in general and critically, assess, problem solve

6. Business writing

Now, no matter what the creative title is of a seminar (and there are many out there -- seminar companies are good at that for marketing purposes), these core learning seminars need to inform participants how to:
>  self manage, self motivate, take ownership
>  management time to get results and learn to be the most productive they can
>  work collaboratively and constructively with others, which includes working appropriately with authority and as well as peers
> learn to think and problem solve (this is an ownership element as well)

Your Next Steps
I encourage you to use this article as a baseline for reviewing your employee training philosophy, expectations and planning from a fresh perspective and in that consider the following action items: 

1). Consider the concept of individual employee core competencies.  What behaviors and attitudes do you want as a performance base line for every employee?

2). Review your decisions regarding any employee training you've done over the past year, particularly what topics were chosen. Compare those to the suggested core employee competency themes.

3). Look at where your training dollars are going -- how have they been spent?...(particularly as it relates to performance needs of your employees).

4). If this article resonates with you, you'll want to explore bringing our Employee Competency Seminar Series to your organization. Click here to learn more

5). View this additional information video on how to make the best decisions for employee training


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