I know you are in the business of training people and you would probably be amused by my concern. I have acquired the reputation as being the manager who never sends my subordinates to attend training, whether conducted in-house or in a public forum. To me training is a waste of time of employees who do not show any improvement in the performance of their tasks, and of course a waste of company money.
There is, however, pressure on me now to release my employees by groups, to attend a training program that our HRD has scheduled for them. My reasonings are no longer acceptable to HRD and to my own boss who has scheduled me several times for training for the past five years I have worked in his department but which I never attended.
What can be done to get some benefits for the company from this training?
Mr. Di Bilib in Training
Thank you for expressing to me your skepticism and doubts about the value of training to employees and to the company. There are managers like you who are TOMs (Task-Oriented Managers) and who believe that employees should focus only in getting their tasks done and that any kind of training keeps them away from performing their tasks. If employees encounter difficulties in their task performance, what do they do? They consult each other or solve their problem thru hit-or-miss, or approach you. TOMs don’t believe in people development and in training as an effective tool for development.
Because you have never attended training yourself and resisted any attempt to make you attend one, you don’t see or appreciate the value of training. If you did attend one, you most possibly have done so with a closed mind, and dropped out after the first day for more important tasks to do.
There is not only pressure on you from HRD and from your boss to release your employees for scheduled training, but also pressure from your own employees whose development needs you have long ignored. Most employees of all levels have a strong need to improve themselves: to update/enhance/retool their skills and knowledge and learn new ones, especially in these times of stiff competition among companies to get the better and best people from the workforce. One of the reasons for employee turnover is the lack of opportunities for self- development and career development.
The reason why you hold such strong anti-training bias is that you mind is set on seeing training as having no value and that those who underwent training didn’t show signs of improvement.
Since you brought up your concern to me, I suggest the following:
1. Discuss with HRD the following: (1) content of the training programs for your employees. See if the content and process to be used will improve the competencies required of your employees to perform their tasks better; and (2) expertise and reputation of the resource persons who will conduct the training program. Competencies could be cognitive (knowledge), affect (attitudes and values) and psychomotor (skills). They relate to both the WHAT and the HOW of getting a task done.
2. Once convinced of the relevance of the training to improve the competencies of your employees, have a meeting with your employees. In this meeting, you (1) tell them about the objectives of the training program for which they are being scheduled; (2) communicate your expectation that what they will learn from the training program will improve their competencies, resulting in better job performance; (3) assure them of your support for their development. You will show this support by not calling them out of the training to go to the office and do some tasks; (4) expect them to write down specific things they learned from the training program which they will apply when they return to work; and (5) express your positive expectations that they will apply their learnings.
3. Release your employees on the scheduled training dates. I’m sure they will have different schedules so as not to impede your section/department’s work flow and outputs.
4. Once they return, meet them again, individually or by batch, and have them report their learnings. (1) Have photocopies of what they had written down as doable actions; (2) Tell them that you will be monitoring their applications; and (3) Express again your positive expectations that they will show improvements in their performance.
5. Reinforcement of learning. This is the challenge to you but remember, you are concerned about ROI, i.e., return on investment for your company. Many people return to their work settings with a sincere commitment to apply what they had learned and/or to change their behaviors and then go back to their old habits. The reason is lack of reinforcement. Do your utmost to do the following: (1) Catch the employee showing improvement in performing a task as a result of his/her application of what he/she has learned; (2) Immediately give positive reinforcement. Ex: “I see, Joel, that you are now doing ___ ___ ___. I like that. Continue doing it.”; (3) Continue the positive reinforcement until the behavior has become a habit.
If the employee has not shown any improvement on a task, ask him/her what the reason is. Let him/her work out any difficulty. Give positive reinforcement when you observe improvement. Do this on a continuous basis until the habit is formed.
If you do the above, the investment of your company in the training of your employees will pay off. In addition, your use of positive reinforcement will develop/strengthen positive relationships between you and your employees. You also enhance the self-esteem of your employees who will now be motivated to be innovative and creative in the performance of their tasks. Try it but do so with expectation of success.
God bless you.