Their Training Manager resigned, and she asked me if they should replace the role. One part of me wanted to quickly say, of course you should, but her question gave me pause and I began to wonder why she was asking this question.
When someone leaves a position in nearly every company, the first thing the manager usually does is to contact HR and in a single breath is telling them that an employee has resigned and we need to hire a replacement. The same pattern happens most of the time as soon as someone is terminated for poor performance, as it is now time to find a better performer!
Yet there was something interesting in this apparent pause that captured my attention. I decided to check on some of the more obvious situations that would require me to say no to rehiring.
- Are you going out of business soon?
- Are you filing bankruptcy protection?
- Are you being acquired by another company?
- Or, is it your desire for one of the above to happen?
With none of these yielding a yes answer, I realized that the doubt about replacing the role had a lot to do with how well training had been perceived as meeting business objectives under the past leadership. It was time to figure out what had happened that was not pleasing to management.
- “Tell me about the role of training the last couple of years”
- “What happened or did not happen that has dampened the support for the training function?”
- If they resigned, “Do you know the real reason they resigned?”
- If they were terminated, “Will you share with me the reasons for termination?”
These questions yielded a ton of information, and in a very short period of time I realized that the training function had become quite ill under the previous leadership. I knew I needed to tell this person in no uncertain terms that, NO you should not immediately replace the Training Manager.
Getting to the root of all the problems the training function has for it to be healthy is the premise of my book The Training Physical. Once this company could list what was working and what was not working, they would be in a better position to find the right training manager from all the applications they would receive. When everyone that is interviewing understands what the ideal candidate looks like, they ask better interviewing questions. And, there is no need to create hypothetical scenarios to test how a candidate would address things, you simply spell out a current problem and ask the “what would you do” question.
This conversation, subsequent Training Physical, and the hiring of a new training manager happened over a year ago with a company that I am proud to say has a very well run training department now. The lesson we all learned is to pause a little between someone leaving and the beginning of the hiring process. Learn what has been going on, and the kind of employee you want to move forward with and you are destined for success.