Training and Performance Expectations

no training“What does training have to do with our employees being able to perform their jobs?”  This was the response I received yesterday from a manager when I asked if their employees were being trained to meet performance expectations?  I answered him back, “maybe nothing at all but maybe everything.”

I learned a long time ago that when you are evaluating the causes for employee performance not meeting expectations that you should never assume it must be for a lack of training.  That only 50% of the time is training a viable solution to improve performance in an employee.  While half the time the causes for lacking performance can come from any of a dozen things, I’m often reminded that training itself still occupies half the solutions column.

I wish more companies spent the time to train performance expectations.  In organizations that follow this process, employees are prepared for the work they need to accomplish.  Yet too often, companies spend more time on remedial training efforts to shore up skill levels, and fill in the gaps for what employees can’t do.

Companies will spend thousands of dollars on recruiting efforts, and then salary and benefits while they sit back and hope the employee figures out how to be a success.  It is almost a crime that employees are thrown into the deep end of the pool and they either sink or swim.  But even if they can dog paddle across the pool, we count it as swimming, don’t we?  We determine that if they have not drowned than we must be satisfied with good enough.

Good on boarding means more than the HR paperwork, and understanding the culture.  It should include actual job training that begins with actual performance goals and expectations.  When new employees understand what is expected, they will seek out and develop the skills they need.  Adult learners are funny that way, they need to feel there is a reason to learn or they are just not that engaged.

This manager and I had a similar conversation as what I’ve talked about here, and his revised answer was that he didn’t think training did much to prepare people to perform their jobs.  Now instead of accepting the status quo, we are going to be running their training function through a Training Physical in the next few weeks to document what they are doing well, and what they could be doing to improve.  I’m looking forward to helping their training function start meeting and exceeding expectations in the coming months.

WHERE do you learn best?

judge“Some companies learn best in the Classroom, and others learn best in the Courtroom.”  Where does your company learn best in order to change behavior?

Having been in the learning profession for 25 years now, I’ve always thought most people learn best in a classroom setting because they want to improve themselves in order to improve the results of their organizations.  Yet I have also run across a fair amount of management that is so blind to a problem they don’t get it until the gavel comes down in a courtroom decision.

Wage & Hour laws in this country are pretty cut and dry, and with the increase of part-time and hourly workers in the past 6 years I believe these laws are even more important as protections.  Yet even with this many rules being dictated toward organizations, it doesn’t prevent countless violations and fraud to avoid them.  And the biggest problem child is not the violating manager it is the internal enforcer – Human Resources.

Yes, the department that is out to protect employees, is often the one that sits in the office waiting until someone tells them there is a problem.  Then they fly around “investigating” what has happened, and then terminate employees or wag their fingers not to do this again.  Once the fire is out, they run back to their office and wait until the alarm is set off again.  When offered help to change their procedures, they will give lip service that they are currently doing just that.  I say lip service because they don’t do anything differently.

But the Human Resource departments that are proactive, training policy and monitoring activities are the stars of their organizations.  Often unrecognized for their efforts, they prevent forest fires instead of fighting fires.  They keep problems from escalating and losing good employees and keep their company out of the courtroom.  These are the unsung heroes that we need to applaud.

Talking with an employment law attorney recently, I was surprised at how often companies need a swift kick in the checkbook to understand the severity of the problem.  They try to settle for small amounts to make problems go away and forget that only this incident actually is over, that the problem still exists.  Yet I would encourage you to search “class action, wage & hour” and look at all the activity that is going on in the courtrooms around the country.  I especially was surprised by the big name companies that have found themselves in front of a judge and/or jury.

I’m starting to wonder whether most companies can learn in the classroom anymore, or if they only learn in the courtroom.  Where do you think they learn best?