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Training You Have To "Walk the Walk"

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Most company executives decide to spend money on training because it is popular, especially when economic times are good.
There is a view that it is "good" and it is also something that responsible leaders are supposed to do to prepare for the future.
However, just spending money on training isn't the only answer.
Training alone will not produce the kind of results that training combined with coaching and mentoring can produce.
Training can increase specific skill sets but education, coaching and mentoring is necessary for complete employee development which incorporates leadership into the equation.
When Times Get Tough Unfortunately, training becomes the first activity to be cut when times get tough.
There is also no clear cut objective measure that calculates the business case for Return on Investment (ROI) for training.
Continued Investment in Training Activities Should Take into Consideration: oHow the employee learned how to do their job?Was it in a seminar? o What role did formal company sponsored training play in the development of the best people currently employed? oWhat measures exist to identify current employee effectiveness?How do you measure improvement and contributions to profitability? oThere are many ways to change behavior and training is one of the least effective.
High impact change strategies start with direct manager coaching, counseling and mentoring.
Regular performance appraisals, changes in incentive or pay practices, changes in work flow processes and information system tools are often necessary to support the coaching and mentoring process.
oHow does the proposed training investment fit into the organization's overall change strategy?Is there even a clear strategy in existence? Training - The Official Definition: Limiting the behavioral responses to a given stimulus, while development is intended to increase behavioral alternatives to the same stimulus As an example, employees need to be trained to enter an order because there is a "right way" to do it.
Sales people need to be developed to increase their effectiveness in customer situations.
The desired behavior is clear and compliance measures are relatively easy to ascertain.
Development is much more esoteric if a real return on investment is desired.
Development requires coaching and mentoring.
Walking the Walk When individual companies choose to make the investment and develop proprietary training programs, a different approach may be necessary to meet desired objectives.
In simple terms this approach includes: 1.
An assessment of the training population (employees) in question from both peer comparisons and within the distribution segment that the company competes.
This normally results in some staffing changes, i.
e.
"let's get rid of the habitual non-performers first".
2.
Development of an explicit and company specific "Best Practices" model that defines individual behaviors, management practices, and the information tools necessary to accomplish the work.
This usually results in some formal definition of work flow processes and formal tools to do the work and measure success, i.
e.
"a formal scorecard for sales people" 3.
Support and commitment on the part of the management group to create this company success model.
This usually results in new computer reports, information tools, as well as policy and procedure changes.
4.
Company managers should be certified in the process to provide ongoing support with new people.
Coaching and mentoring classes should be completed by all managers to support the training process.
Employees are taught how to use the new tools and measurement systems with the full involvement of their immediate supervisor.
Post training coaching and reinforcement is the number one criteria to insure behavioral change.
Many companies will chose to buy seminars where the main concern is the speaker, and audience entertainment style evaluations, i.
e.
"This was the best seminar that I ever attended".
While managers get a "feel good" there are other alternatives for those who believe that employee performance is a basis for competitive advantage.
Seminars are not designed for behavior modification.
They must be supported by follow-up training, coaching and mentoring dependent upon individual employee circumstance.
Training is designed to improve specific skills.
Education is designed to teach knowledge.
It is important to know when to train and when to educate.
Timing is important...
When Should I Train and When Should I Educate? Leadership carries a responsibility to release the greatness in others.
The ability to recognize potential in others is important in determining the type of support an employee may need.
Training is the easy part because most training is job specific.
However, internships are often initiated by progressive companies for high potential employees.
Internships should include training, education and coaching and mentoring.
Training should be given to all employees to improve specific job performance.
But, if you are going to build bench strength and create effective succession planning, training, education and coaching and mentoring combined are the prerequisites for success.
Training alone can be effective when; oNew skills are required due to job requirement changes oPerformance levels are not acceptable oTask related issues are identified oNew employees are hired Education can be effective when; oEmployees seek additional responsibility oEmployees seek more challenge oEmployees demonstrate potential for future development oNeeds for bench strength and leadership voids are identified Authors Note:Education and training can always be beneficial under almost any circumstances.
The intent of this article is to encourage not discourage more education and training.
However, realistically, every company has a budget.
As a result, it is helpful to identify specific needs for training and education to maximize the return on investment dollars.
Whether the company is providing training, education or both, the success ratio and return on that investment can be increased exponentially if they are supported by a coaching and mentoring process.
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