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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Managers Must Be Teachers

In Paul Borawski’s post this month on The View from the Q Blog he asks about our experience with training.  He shared some results regarding the matter from ASQ’s Global State of Quality research. (Remember, you can download the entire report for free at the above link.)
From the research:  “Organizations that govern quality with a centralized group are roughly 30 percent more likely to provide quality training to staff than organizations where a senior executive governs the quality process” (page 6).
I continue to find this an interesting differential in successful businesses. Training plays an important role in the success of your business. A manager should provide the tools, the opportunities and the skills to assist staff to grow and develop.

Managerial training responsibilities extend far beyond simply going over work procedures and sending employees to classes when they need to master a new skill. Effective workforce training is an ongoing process that requires supervisors to engage in ongoing skill development with their employees. Managers must engage in informal training needs assessment on an ongoing basis, paying attention to employees' strengths and weaknesses and identifying gaps that can be overcome through training opportunities.

According to a 2011 report from Accenture, 55% of workers in the U.S. say they are under pressure to develop new skills, but only 21% say their companies have provided training to learn those new skills within the last five years. Training is a lever that changes the rate of improvement you can achieve.

Proper training should not be reserved for new employees. In order to maintain a staff of trained and well-integrated employees, it's critical to promote continuous learning throughout their careers. There are always new things for employees to learn and the rate of change in the business world demands new skills, fresh perspectives and new ideas. Training should be utilized to ensure that your employees are continually learning and improving.

Regular, effective and relevant training is massively important and a great motivator. If you want them to perform properly and consistently then you have to give them the tools to do so. Training is always good, it keeps people up to date and focused on the job at hand, it keeps their skills at the forefront and it will show them that management are obviously concerned with how well they do their job, etc. If they are given good quality training that covers the topics and issues they are faced with then they will respond and to a certain extent motivate themselves to stick with what they learn.

Creating a positive learning environment will encourage development and help your employees gain confidence in their position. Trainers should be relaxed and clearly explain the reasoning behind every new exercise and lesson. Negativity will only inhibit the learning process, so it's important to be patient, allow for mistakes, and always reward new achievements. This positive feedback will reinforce and affirm the efforts of your new recruits, and encourage them to continue learning.

It is important for employees to be challenged or learning new things in their job.  Too often managers don’t allow their employees to expand beyond their areas of expertise.  Managers are fearful that they will need to expend too much energy on training or reviewing work, that there will be too many mistakes, or that the employees don’t want to have to learn more.  Job sharing, job rotations, special projects, strategic offsites, or even including employees in on key decisions can have a significant and positive impact on long term motivation.

If you think of training as a business expense, that's what it becomes. However, if you think of training as an investment, that's what it becomes. What would you rather do, pay bills or invest in your team? By thinking of training as an investment, you will also expect a return. This focus guides you in everything from selecting the right training to evaluating its results.

It is a proven that companies that invest in the continued training and proficiency of their employees enjoy improved performance, lower attrition rates and a greater overall return on their investment. Intellectual capital is now a critical factor for competitive advantage in today's global world. The organizations that recognize the benefits and value of providing continuing training opportunities to employees will be better able to compete in a rapidly changing world.

Leaders play a critical role in changing the thinking of the members of the organization. This responsibility cannot be passed on or delegated. By delegating these activities you are sending the message that this is not important. Company leaders must understand that development cannot be delegated away.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own. 

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  1. Do you know of any good training information systems? Or books on how to build one? LOVE this post. Super relevant to what my company is going through, and I'd like to apply the ideas.

    1. If you have not read Toyota Kata it is a must. I did a book review last year. You can also get more information on training from the Toyota Kata website.

      Great resource for coaching and being effective at it.