Create Internal Job Training

I am not a fan of one-size fits all job training that can be obtained by the local community college and/or tech school.  While these resources can provide overviews, and general concepts, participants fall short of being able to walk into a new job with no experience other than their training certificate and perform their jobs well.

Companies of all shapes and sizes need to get back to creating learning paths and job training programs to build the skills they need performed.  Even the most experienced person in their chosen field is not going to know how things work on day one at their new job, so why do we think that a person without specific job experience can perform with just a degree or certificate?

I am really impressed with companies that have on boarding programs that orient a new employee to the how and why we do things.  I am even more impressed with the company that takes the results of that orientation and assesses what job training needs to occur for this individual to perform the job they were hired to do, and coincidently are already being paid to perform.

If your company has openings to fill, there should be a learning path for the new hire to begin on day one so that they are performing at the level you need them to as quickly as possible.

If your company has openings to fill and experienced candidates are few and far between, then the training function should be creating a complete internal job training program.  In fact, depending on the amount of openings, you may want to hire people to develop and pay them to take training.  If they are successful in their training, then they are offered the permanent position at full pay.  Not only are you developing the individual with the specific skills you require, you are orienting them to the actual working environment.  You are also only paying them on a temporary basis that ends upon completion of training.

I’ve experimented with this process once in my corporate career.  The only difference was the candidates had been hired in their position and getting full pay while in training.  If they didn’t work out or failed to learn we had to go through a normal termination process.  My improvement would be to hire on a temporary basis for the term of the training.  If that is 90-days, then they are paid for that time period as a temporary employee.  The incentive to learn and get good at the job would be an offer of full-time employment.

Companies need to start taking more control over the learning process with new employees.  Don’t expect the government or college system to prepare these people to work for you.  Take a look at the learning process of a military recruit.  They train first, then put them to work.  The reason former military personnel are some of the best hires is because they come in the door well-trained, with only the details of working for you left to learn.

Dithering Spells Disaster

When it comes to leading the learning function, dithering is a recipe for disaster.  And yet it is a common process for many organizations that need to implement changes in their learning environments.

While dithering may be the root of the inaction, the outward communication is often that there is a “detailed analysis” of the situation going on.  Honestly, if it takes months to analyze a performance issue, you probably don’t have the right people working on the problem.  The only thing that happens is that nothing happens and the problems are getting worse.

For many learning professionals, they see their role as only the provider of skills to perform a job.  While that is a key responsibility, it is not the only benefit that training can offer.  Better communications up, down and side to side can be facilitated by appropriate learning actions.  Consistent messaging, especially beneficial if the alternative is word of mouth, or social bites of information being passed around.  Understanding reality on the ground floor before during and after changes in the work environment can be discovered through learning processes.

So why are leaders in many companies dithering with the establishment and implementation of training?  They don’t want to make any mistakes!  They are not sure what to do, and don’t have the talent on staff to advise them.  They don’t want to hire outside help because that alerts someone else that they don’t have the skills to solve the problem.  Imagine a world where everyone is able to do everything.  It requires imagination because it does not exist.  Yet, for fear of looking less that 100%, we dither day in and day out.

I’ve sadly watched many senior leaders crash and burn because they dither longer than they should, and someone finally calls them on their lack of accomplishment.  It always happens, some sooner than others, but dithering catches up with the best of them.  It is very difficult to change the direction of a dithering leader, because fear of failure is often entrenched.

My goal is to always find the leader that wants to make changes, build competencies and when it comes to training they are moving mountains to help their employees learn.  When I find leaders that are struggling, I insert reality into their universe in order to help them move forward.  If that doesn’t work, I realize I have found another dithering leader and it is best for me to move on because they are unable to accept help.

While the goal of training in a perfect world is to get in front of the wave,  this is often an unattainable reality.  Insert dithering decision-making into the process, and you have moved into the world of hopelessness.  If you are dithering, get help now!

Do We Really Need HR & Training?

When I first started to discover companies that had dismantled the Human Resources and Training Departments into “other assigned duties” of administrative personnel, I was shocked.  I questioned the whole response to how or why any company would do this to themselves or their employees.  What I realized is that these companies just took the last step that so many companies just haven’t taken yet.

While many companies have reduced the HR and Training function to a skeleton operation, they have at least kept the experienced managers in place as a safeguard.  Yet by gutting the operations of other talent, they are just prolonging the death of these functions.  I am watching one such HR group go through this with the help of their HR Director.

The training manager got fed up with the lack luster support of training and last year ended what he called the worst 18 months of his career.  “We got very little done, made very little difference all because HR wouldn’t fight for anything.”  Now the HR director has seen fit to procrastinate the hiring of a training manager for the past 8 months while she determines her needs.

This is a very experienced HR Director, with a law degree and a through understanding of employment law.  This company is lucky to have such a talent working for them, especially when they are well noted for poor working conditions and unhappy employees.  It makes you wonder why she stays in her job.  If I was recruiting for an HR Leader, I would hire her in a heartbeat.  Why?  She is strategic and sees the role of HR as the partner needed for success.  Yet I wonder why she hasn’t move forward on training.

I believe, and this is only a hunch right now, that she is battling an internal perception of the value of training.  Senior Management has not seen value in the past, and she is positioning the training function first, and then will find the right talent to lead the function.  Yet there must be something else at play for this to go on for 8 months.

Maybe management is exploring the question of do we really need HR & Training?  Now that they have lost most of the training function, several of the HR employees, maybe it is time to regulate this function to the clerical role many companies see it fitting into their company.  Is this a mistake?  Maybe.

Back to the original companies that closed down everything.  Time will tell if they turn back on the light switch in the HR and Training Departments.  If it takes awhile, they did land up saving money on salaries and benefits.  And if they wait until they know what they want to do with these two departments before they hire again, they will have a better chance of success.

If you run HR or training in your company, realize that someone may be asking if they really need your department.  The answer should always be yes they need the function.  The truth is, they may need someone else to lead it than who they have today.