When You Don’t Want to Delay Training


waitIn the Learning Development space, most of us understand the list of what are called “Adult Learning Principles” as kind of the rules we live by in the design, facilitation and implementation of training solutions. I learned a long time ago to ignore these principles at my own risk.

One of these principles is that adults learn best when they have a need and/or a desire to learn. When an adult learner is ready to learn it is never wise to delay their training. In fact, delaying the learning process only tends to frustrate the adult learner and your window of opportunity to make training stick closes each day you delay.

Now while I have always understood this principle, I have recently become impatient with a delay in my own learning process. While the experience of being asked to wait is frustrating, it has also allowed me to personally feel the aggravation of being an adult learner that is being delayed from learning. I am ready to learn and so therefore I should be allowed to learn now.

I recently purchased a travel franchise, and while I know a lot about the travel industry, I have a lot to learn about the back office and booking side of the business. Because I am on a different time table from the training function, I find it kind of funny to be sitting on the other side of the fence this time waiting on getting the training I need. Even though I am not working in training this time, I am still learning about the results of poor implementation. I guess I will never get completely away from the world of learning development.

For those reading that come from the training world, you may have picked up on another adult learning principle that has always been one I remember, and that is that adults learn best through experiential learning activities. They can learn from lectures, discussions, group work and research, but getting into the role is still the best way to lock down the learning. By having to wait for my own training when I want it now, I have experienced a frustration that reading about never locked down as well as feeling it has to this point.

While I appreciate learning more about the importance of implementing training when the adult learner wants to learn, I still want my training to begin now.

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So Why Do Franchises Spend Time On Training?


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The past few weeks I’ve been exploring different franchise businesses that are from different industries and several different business models. But the one thing they all have had in common is a very robust training plan for new franchise owners.

Built into the franchise fee are in-depth online courses, webinars, and weeklong classroom training. Everyone had a plan for keeping the skill development alive even after the initial training had been completed.

Coming from the corporate world where only a handful of organizations spend this much time with new hires, I have not only been impressed at the support, but started to wonder why franchises spend so much time on training?

  • The first reason is that franchise owners are often new to owning a business and often industry experience is not a requirement to own a franchise. So the potential franchise owner is desperate to learn and won’t sign up unless the company can provide thorough training.
  • The second reason is the company realizes that these new franchise owners are almost certain to fail without a comprehensive training process.

Both are excellent reasons for franchises to spend time on training!

 

Now this is where I get a little steamed when it comes to comparing the corporate world that spends so little time on their onboarding process and comprehensive training plan.

Just like a franchise owner, a new employee also wants to be able to perform their job quickly and is looking for the right training support to fill in the gaps. But the difference seems to be that too many companies are not as vested in their employees being successful or they would provide better training processes. Ouch! The truth can hurt at times.

Having now reviewed several franchise fees that need to be paid to own a franchise, they are not that different than the average compensation package for the first year of an employee’s time on the job. So one might ask does it matter who is paying this money.

In a franchise scenario it is the owner of the franchise who is risking the investment and wants the training. Yet in a corporate setting it is the employer who is risking the investment and passes on providing the training. It makes no sense, but happens daily in companies all over the country!

Is it time to invest in our employees, or is it time for companies to shore up their investments with comprehensive training? Maybe it is time for both!

Attention Training – All Hands On Deck!


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Have you notice that the business world is starting to talk more about growth? New factories, new offices, new businesses popping up everywhere, with new hiring to follow soon!

Any company that is planning to grow without the assistance of an internal training function is gambling with the company’s future. Any Board of Directors and/or Management Team that is avoiding hiring skilled training talent to build competencies is in for a real surprise when their plans fall flat.

Most, if not all companies, need to train specific skills in their employees in order for them to learn how to perform certain tasks. Leaving aside the obvious lack of interpersonal communications, productivity and leadership training, employees need to learn how to function in their work environment. Systems, Compliance, even Culture are just the tip of the iceberg of skills that new employees need to learn quickly to function.

Yet too many companies operate off the concept of learning on the job, which works when you are hiring a couple of employees at a time. Growth that has you amazed at how many new employees you need requires something a lot more strategic.

For you CEOs that define everything told to an employee as “training”, I need to burst your bubble. Talking at people, or reminding people of a topic is NOT Training. It is nothing more that information. Training is about changing behaviors, and talking at people rarely changes behaviors. If you don’t have a real training function, you are living on some shaky soil.

In most companies, the training function is both under staffed and lacking the competencies to make a difference. This is 100% the fault of the organization and the management team! You hired people that were willing to do the job, but didn’t know how. Then you failed to provide these people the training they needed to perform well for you. All that money you saved in compensation from not hiring experienced learning professionals is about to come back and bite you!

All hands on deck will require everyone in training to be on top of their game. You will need quality designers, trainers and strategic managers. If you are not capable today, then hire the talent to up your game before you step out on the field. Otherwise you are going to lose and lose big!

Is Your Training Function Lacking Awards?


lastplaceIf your training efforts are not winning awards, than you are either shy or realize your training function lacks what it takes to compete. If you know what it takes to improve the quality of your training results than make the necessary fixes and make a difference. If you have no idea as to what comes next, it is time for a Training Physical.

Often with new clients of the Training Physical, I ask them to read my book before we decide what areas and to what degree we will evaluate their whole training effort. While my experience tells me the hot spots that are probably the neediest, I want some self-discovery to occur before I interject.

Reading the book will prepare you to understand that the training function is a lot of moving parts. For the folks that think a workshop can solve any performance issue, these chapters can really open up their minds to how adult learning can and should be working. There are often many different issues collaborating against each other creating chaos for the organization.

But if you are like most organizations with a weak training function, not only does is it happen because senior leaders are unaware of what training should be doing, so are the current training management and team members. The training manager, the trainers and the instructional designers are trying to do their best even though they lack the skills to recognize issues, let alone fix them.

Training seems to be the one department in an organization that allows people to go without the necessary skills to perform their job, while at the same time management moans and groans about results. Why do we continually hire inexperienced people to work in the training function? That would be like hiring me to run your IT function. Within weeks my complete lack of an IT background would grind your operation to a halt, so duh, you wouldn’t hire someone with my background to run IT, and yet you hire people without a training background to manage training.

A strong training function produces employees that are able to perform their jobs well all over your organization, and a weak training function produces little. So honestly, if you are part of the senior management team in your company, why do you want a training function that is unable to produce results? Doesn’t it make more sense to make it a function capable of winning you awards for excellence?

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“Can Your Business Grow with a New Economy?”


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While your company may have a solid foundation and all the pillars of a strong infrastructure to grow the business, most small and mid-sized companies are missing one essential function. Even in larger companies this function may exist, but the employees you have in place are in way over their heads for being a growth oriented business partner.

No matter what you do, you hire human beings as employees. These human beings come from different generations with different skill sets and different interpretations of how to work toward common goals. To make this more of a challenge most organizations have managers and leaders that lack good communication skills. And lately more organizations are operating with supervisors and managers that don’t understand how their own employee policies work and are putting the company in serious legal peril.

If you have a robust Human Resource function, with qualified talent, AND management follows their directions you have a fighting chance. But if you have a clueless management team as it relates to basics like Wage & Hour laws, what Harassment Free Workplaces look like, or Discrimination, you leave your HR function in a state of perpetual firefighting instead of being strategic.

 

The Primary Essential Function for Growth

Within human resources lies the one essential function that can either partner with the organization for growth or in most cases hinder the ability to grow. That function is Talent (AKA) Training Development. The very folks that need to develop all of the skills in others to perform work; rarely if ever do their own job well. Sadly it is not for a lack of will as I have discovered over the years, but a simply lack of knowing how. They don’t have the skills to act strategically. Many trainers and training managers focus only on a workshop or online class at a time. Few are able to prepare an influx of new employees because of a hiring surge, or and acquisition.

In the banking industry as an example, only the big banks spend time and money developing their training team members, and so when the bank decides to open new locations or acquire another bank, they pull it off in grand style. But most of the growth that is going on this way is coming from mid-size to small banks, and if they even have a training function, it is understaffed and those in charge don’t know how to do their jobs to the full extent necessary.

 

Qualified VS Experienced

In order to be Qualified, you know both about and have the ability to perform tasks. Now while being experienced may mean you are qualified, it also means that you have held the title of a function for a long time. Many training development people are experienced in only “time in the chair”. They have been the manager for 10 years, and are thought to be both qualified and experienced. But in reality they don’t know how to do everything they should be able to do after 10 years on the job.

 

Can Your Company Grow?

I cringe every time I speak with a senior leader that is looking forward to growing their business, and I know that their training function cannot help them. At best they will design a workshop and make it look like they are participating in the growth process. At worse they clog up the process and drag out what could have been a smooth transition.

Once I get these same senior leaders to investigate the capabilities of their training function, they realize that they are not as ready to grow as they first thought. I usually begin by having them request a copy of the annual training plan, which if it exists at all, is light and fluffy and lacks any tie back to the corporate goals. If a training function is this reactive it cannot possibly partner effectively with organizational growth goals.

I designed a process (and even published two books) on how to evaluate the corporate training function with the goals of making it work properly. But it takes some tough love from management to look at the results and make changes to the training operation.

In too many companies there is a lack of basic skills in all of their employee population causing a revolving door of new employees. Yet until companies start to staff Human Resources and Training with Qualified employees and not just experienced people, the problems will never disappear.

Your CEO Has Ordered A Training Physical


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Yes, your CEO has decided that the training function has been allowed to operate for too long without any accountability and it is way past time to find out why. While it would be easier to just eliminate the training function and reduce all of the expenses, your CEO actually knows the value of training for employees. So instead of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” your CEO wants to know what is working and what needs to change to improve the operation and results.

In the next few days we will be talking about your training function by phone in preparation for an onsite visit. I will want to learn what you train, and how you train. I want to understand your concerns and frustrations about managing your training function, and what you already wish was different.

You and I will partner to discover, and document, what is working well and what is causing your CEO grief over your operation. We will ultimately talk through your challenges and create alternatives that will make your life easier, the operation run better, and position the training function to be a star player next year.

 

Now if your CEO has not ordered a Training Physical yet……..

  • Are you ready to live up to your full potential?
  • Are you finding that year after year it becomes harder to meet the needs of the organization?
  • Have you heard rumors that training is on the chopping block?

Then now is the time to set an appointment for a Training Physical. This consultation is free, so email me at Jim@jkhopkinsconsulting.com to setup a time to discuss your circumstances.

 

Can Your Company Grow?


thumbnailCA4Z1XR6If the economic climate seems to be shifting in a way that would suggest now is the time to grow your operation, and you decide to bring down the checkered flag and announce growth plans for your company, can your company execute on that strategy?

I ask not because your people don’t desire to grow, but whether they have the necessary skills to make things happen. Is your talent development strategy been one that has regularly been building the competencies people need to perform their current jobs, and does it allow for rapid deployment for growth challenges?

First and foremost, if your training function has been reactive and running programs just to keep the lights on in the training room, you will have problems growing. If your training department operates without a training plan that models the strategy of the company, you have a weak learning organization that will prevent your ability to grow.

 

The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat and Cure Your Training Department

So if the health of your training function is in doubt, start by evaluating what is working and what is missing in a functional training department that returns on the current investment. Do not proceed to allocating any additional money to this function until you know how it is working today.

 

Pointless Training: The Consequences of Inadequate Training Strategies

In the process of your evaluation, take note of the current training strategies and whether they are working for your adult learners. And, are you training everything that your employees need to perform their jobs well? I cannot stress enough that you want to look at what your employees need, not every skill known to man that could be trained. During this process you just may find you are training unnecessary skills just because “we have always done it that way.”

 

In all of the years I’ve been working with organizations that want to rebuild their learning functions, I have never found a lack of will. People want to provide quality training, and they have the right heart and spirit to work hard to make it happen. What they often lack is the knowledge of how to provide good training and learning transfer.

For companies that simply have not had a learning function, and see no value, there is not much to be done. Oh sure, you can preach the good news of learning, but your audience has no desire to hear your message. I have made it a personal hobby to keep track of these companies, and over time they simply disappear.

You see there is a basic similarity in every company. They all need human beings to make them function. Granted, not every task is performed by a human these days, but no company is without the human element. It boggles my mind when I see a company trying to survive, let alone grow, without training employees. Management in these organizations is focused only on the bottom line, and if someone can’t do the job they are fired and replaced. This process of firing and replacing goes on until the right person is found. Sadly this leadership style is prevalent and is why I see the lack of training in a company as a key indicator for applicants to consider before accepting an employment offer.

So if your company wants to open another location, hire more employees, acquire a competitor, ask yourself if your training function can facilitate this transaction. Do they have processes in place to train quickly and just the missing skills needed. Training an acquired competitor is different than a new hire with very different learning strategies. Does your training leadership know how to do what you need to grow?

Before you can take advantage of a shifting economy, I beg you to check in with the folks that can make your goals come true, or because they are not ready completely screw up your plans. Remember, they want to help you succeed, but they may not know how.