by John Graci
During a meeting, how often have you seen managers shorten the length of employee training in order to get the employees back to the floor sooner?
It’s understandable how leaders arrive at that conclusion. The longer employee training takes, the less time employees spend producing. However, by choosing not to invest the time to train employees thoroughly, managers are unwittingly choosing to pay workers to do the job poorly, or to develop bad habits that will hurt productivity and quality for untold lengths of time.
The cost of poorly trained employees can be tallied not only in actual dollars but lost productivity due to the time spent fixing errors and covering overages and shortages, both of which could have been curtailed by adequate training. And this doesn't even mention the deadliest consequence of all: lost customers.
The long and short of it is: You Pay for Training Whether You Intend to or Not!
You’re going to pay your employees either way - it’s up to you to make sure you get exactly the performance you expect. The best way to do this? Invest in quality training.
However, easier said than done. Quality training doesn’t just happen, and it’s not without its pitfalls.
Many organizations choose a superstar to do the training. Superstars, for all of their talents, typically have a hard time putting into words what makes them so good. Superstars often leave out the "why" of the job. Workers need to know the "Why"! Otherwise, a five-step process will become a three-step process overnight, with sometimes disastrous consequences.
Many leaders make the mistake of believing that telling is the same as training, or assuming that saying it once does the job; many employees will do their best impression of a bobblehead doll and agree with everything you say, just to end the training session or meeting. No matter how thorough your presentation, you must also ask employees to repeat the information back to you, to ensure that they know what they need to do, and why.
Asking an employee, who is likely performing their best impression of a bobblehead doll, "do you have any questions?" isn't going to get you the results you want. Fishing for questions like this is asking people to willingly put themselves on the spot and look like they weren't smart enough to keep up. No one wants that. Instead, ask, "what questions do you have for me?” – this will keep the spotlight on you, and lets people know that they should have questions at this point and that you are eager to answer them.
Ever try to ice skate? You mastered this skill after one lesson, right? Too often, leaders expect employees to learn new skills instantly. They hit the employee with an avalanche of information, then become stunned or even subconsciously judge the employee for being incompetent when the job is not done correctly right away. Your most effective leaders take the drip, drip, drip approach to employee education, allowing knowledge to sink in a lot deeper. Often, employees need to gain experience with the each of the smaller steps of a process before it takes root.
Time spent training employees is a valuable window to communicate what you expect of your workers and to get on the same page as to what you're looking for, and what they need to do. The stakes and the costs are too high to rush through it! Pay me now or pay me later!
John Graci is an author, consultant, and leadership adviser with more than 20 years of management experience in production, office, union and non-union environments. Connect with John to speak at you next corporate event. Graci Leadership Solutions 612-708-1939 firstname.lastname@example.org