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.

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