Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Training is a Waste of Time

This weekend, I opened the latest issues of Training and Development and my eyes were immediately draw to the title “Why most training is Useless”, written by David H. Maister. My initial “gut” reaction was to say, “Oh no, another article that I have to read and prepare a defense for.” As I continued to read, I started to become more in tune with the ideas presented and certainly started leaning toward the author’s point of view.

I have found that most companies expect training to provide a “quick fix” and they utilize the training as an event to “kick-off” a change initiative. This type of thinking will certainly lead to failure if the desired long term effect is a change in behavior or culture. It takes much more than training but when used properly, training can be the most positive factor in the achievement of the initiative.

I have spent the last ten years in the business of training and I find that it is as difficult as ever to get anyone to view training as a process as opposed to an event. The reason we don’t usually see training as part of the process is that we have no strategy or plan to implement the change over time. We expect our trainers to sprinkle “fairy dust” over the participants and almost immediately, their company’s productivity and performance will elevate beyond possibilities.

I have only found a few companies where the leadership had a good understanding and visualization of the outcome resulting from the training. They know “what matters most!” but they aren’t willing to focus on a plan of action and implementation process to achieve the desired outcome. Most companies just ask, “What do you have for team building, conflict resolution, harassment, or what do you have to improve communication? We want to change behaviors and the culture but we don’t know what we want to look like.” We just want to get better and the prescription calls for training.

I find that most training programs do not have any research-driven basis for application and most training does not focus on the application of the knowledge learned versus the amount of information delivered. I can honestly state that most companies that pay good money for training do not see the learned materials being applied in the workplace to help achieve the desired outcome. The key word is application and as the author states, “helping people develop as managers doesn’t mean discussing management or leadership. It means putting people through a set of processes in which they have to experience, try out, and develop their emotional self-control and interactive styles”. I have yet to hear a customer ask me about how programs allow the participant to apply the learned knowledge in the work environment to improve their skills or competencies needed to make them a better manager.

The right approach is to focus on the outcome and then determine the best format to present the knowledge, demonstrate how they can apply the knowledge, and monitor the results whether it is a behavioral or a culture change. Our unique adult learning process is much more effective than event training, yet we have never been asked what format we use to initiate change or focus on desired behaviors. Awareness is an event, planning is an event; implementation requires a process of application and understanding to provide a desired result. The process you choose is the most important ingredient, yet most don’t even care. The learning process you choose can make your training initiative not only immensely powerful, but effective as well. I really find it ironic that most executives are process and results-oriented except when it comes to training. Training is a process that needs to satisfy the needs and desired outcome for any organization or company.

Is your training initiative an event or a process? I bet I know the answer.

Talent Management Means Competent Leadership

Talent Management is an entity that has been slowly evolving within many corporations. Most corporations list the following practices as part of their overall program:

  • High potential employee development
  • Leadership Development
  • Professional Development
  • Succession Planning
  • Career Planning
  • Learning and Training
  • Performance Management
  • Competency Management
  • Retention
  • Employee Engagement

Talent Management should concern itself with competencies. Companies should focus on the competencies that make a difference today and will continue to make a difference tomorrow. It means fitting the “right person” to the “right job” and then measuring their impact on the company’s strategy or goals.

In simplest of terms, Talent Management is people development associated with organizational effectiveness. Most companies do not have a clue about what Talent Management means to them and what competencies will provide sustained growth and success. It is important that they focus on their Strategic Development plan now and don’t wait until it is too late. It will be too late when they do not have the people who are able to learn and perform the roles and responsibilities needed for sustained growth. Do we have the people that can respond to the rapidly changing, highly competitive marketplace?

Most companies have not yet assessed the talent within their organization. How can the learning and training components be applied when you don’t know what is needed to develop the people. People are starting to talk about succession planning only because a lot of key people are leaving the workforce for retirement or alternative careers. I joined a pharmaceutical company in the late sixties and within three weeks, the company has decided that I was a “High Potential”….an HP as we called it back then.

A fast track of combined learning and training programs were laid out before me while at the same time, my performance was monitored as if I was under the microscope. It appears that many companies have strayed away from labeling “high potentials” and providing a program to accelerate their careers within the company. Now, I know some companies have accelerated programs and call these designated potential leaders something, like top producers, achievers, or whatever.

It just seems like the same old story. We have been concerned about this problem for many, many years but we have done nothing to provide a fully integrated set of human resource functions that can be called a people development process. We hesitate to assess anyone or anything because it will cause conflict and we can’t have conflict when we need to retain good talent.

Is Talent Management really meeting the needs of most companies? What are we waiting for? The leadership of our companies must step up and focus on a Strategic Development Plan that includes people, processes, and performance. The integration of those three entities often results in employee engagement, motivation, and success.

Human Resources in many companies is defined as the human capital experts. So, when are these so-called experts going to jump up and down and give their leadership team a real assessment of the culture, the people, and the potential to more forward while sustaining growth and reaching goals? It will probably be when all the Talent has left.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Behavioral Interviewing Workshop

Recently Innovative Leadership conducted a public Behavioral Interviewing Workshop. It is a 3 hour workshop that teaches business owners, managers, and professionals how to excel in an interviewing environment.

It introduced the participants to a questioning approach that will help them determine a candidate's abilities based on past experience, not hearsay. Behavioral based interviewing is touted as providing a more objective set of facts to make employment decision than other interviewing methods.

What our participants said:

"The workshop provided a clarity and simplification of the interview process." Matt Bell - VP of ARI

"The real-life examples and role-playing provided an excellent method for learning the Behavioral Interviewing Process." - Sam Bell - Vp of ARI

"The workshop provided a more defined questioning technique in the Interviewing Process." - Jamie Rubini - HR of The Golden Inn

"The Behavioral Interviewing Workshop created a structure for interviewing that I really need in my position." Joel Inman - General Manager, Greate Bay Country Club

All participants received a complimentary Behavioral Interviewing Action Plan for immediate use with their next interview. If you would like to have this workshop or any other workshop conducted for your employees, call 609.390.2830.

Public Workshops are also available. Send a little as one person or send up to 10!

If you are looking to improve yourself and would like to sign up for a workshop or a course, see what is coming up! Click Here

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Leadership Modeling in the Ethics Dept.

It is important that managers are role models for the employee when it comes to ethics.

Why? It is important because ethics in the workplace can affect an employee’s productivity.

It has now been statistically collaborated that business ethics can improve productivity. In an article published in the July 7th issue of HR Magazine, Volume 52, titled, “Corporate Ethics Affects Employee Productivity, a survey of almost 2000 employees, showed that 73 percent of all employees have witnessed unethical behavior while on the job. It was also reported that thirty six percent of the respondents reported unethical behavior negatively affected their job performance. Forty three percent of those surveyed reported that they would personally get involved with resolving the situation while forty eight percent stated that they would get their management team involved with providing a solution to the problem.

Leadership and Management Development courses that focus on performance enhancement and improved productivity are incorporating business ethics modules or content into their curriculum. The role of a leader has always been centered on integrity, honesty, hard work, and fairness. It is important to the employee that their manager exhibits ethical behaviors in the workplace. So important, in fact, that those employees need ethical leaders to be productive. Leadership means influence and when managers understand that their behavior and the behavior of others can have a major impact on performance, productivity will continue to climb.

Employee involvement, motivation, and their commitment to the mission, vision, and purpose in any company centers is enhanced by their leaders’ ethical behavior.

So now, I'd like you to share: As a leader in your company, what are you doing to be a role model for your workers?

Richard Hohmann
Senior Business Development Strategist
Innovative Leadership

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Battle Cry for Employee Engagement

I had read an article written by Chris and Mel Wildermuth, titled the 10 M’s of Employee Engagement (Training and Development, January 2008). The subtitle noted that Workplace Learning and Performance Professionals need to be engagement champions. The article demonstrated 10 M’s of engagement to help create engagement-friendly organizations. It appears that consultants and the management experts have turned this engagement crisis into a movement and should be uttering a battle cry much like “Remember the Alamo”. It seems we are losing the battle of employee engagement and have the American worker is now totally apathetic in their jobs. Also, it appears that we are fighting for our lives to keep engagement strongly entrenched as a core value of any company or organization. It is now our responsibility to make sure that our employees, leaders, and customers are engaged. But wait, hasn’t that been our responsibility for decades?

Whose responsibility is it to do that? Is it the Human Relations or Resources Manager responsibility? OR is it the CEO and the senior executive team that should do that? Like the article noted in the previous paragraph, it starts with an “M” or “MM”, which of course stands for manager or middle manager. The most critical ingredient for employee engagement is the front-line manager. It has been reported that a 5% increase in employee engagement results in a 2.5% increase in growth. In this era of “do more with less”, the employee who freely gives that extra effort if most valued by their manager.

It’s time for HR Professionals to march directly into the C-Suite and state that they need to train and develop their front-line managers and tell them that these people are the most important component of our plan for sustained growth. We must get our managers to connect the dots between strategy, culture, performance, and motivation. These front-line managers are the future leaders of the company and they will make the difference in the future of the company.

We have to allow our front line managers to:

  • Be responsible for employee development and talent management

  • Be able to challenge the employee’s abilities and teach them the skills to expand their strengths

  • Be able to communicate openly providing clarification for the employee

  • Be goal-oriented and provide focus on their contribution to the overall success of the organization by coupling the outcome to the strategy

The skills and competencies of the front-line manager will provide the sustained growth and innovation need in this highly competitive marketplace. Communication, forward thinking, prioritization, and other skills must be learned and applied in the workplace by managers if we can expect to improve employee engagement. Employees need a manager who is willing to provide an “open” communication platform that includes feedback in a timely fashion, candid discussion on performance and appropriate behavior, a willingness to clarify expectations and use metrics to measure results, and to include the employee in the awareness and planning stages for the company’s vision.

We have to get away from telling the employee what they have to do, but why the company’s success is so dependent on them performing at the highest level of commitment. Train and motivate the manager, and the employee will be part of the team.

Join us May 19 12-1pm for a Lunch N Learn on Employee Motivation. Registration is free and we provide lunch. More Info.