When developing or implementing a new or "refreshed" training program, much is said about what to do, but little is mentioned about what not to do.
The following outlines the top 10 mistakes every manager must avoid when implementing a training program:
1. Always Giving Advice, Never Listening. It is often easier for managers to provide input, feedback, or sage advice than to listen to those they are managing for much needed answers to day-to-day strategic or business issues. Management should never assume they have all the answers. More likely than not, a wealth of valuable strategic input can be gained from frontline staff who have direct member interaction. After all, the needs of the member come first, and the best way to understand their needs is to hear it directly from the frontline staff or member (who talks to the frontline staff).
2. Managers Do Not Observe Employees With Members. Just as important as listening to frontline staff, observing carries equal weight. Nothing can take the place of "real-life" experience. Observing employees with members will demonstrate exactly how the staff is implementing the training they have received. It will show management what procedures are being utilized, how effective they are, and how members react to the implemented procedures. In fact, through observation and participation, management has the opportunity to hear feedback directly from the member.
3. Saying One Thing And Doing Another. Management must walk the walk and be able to do and demonstrate what they say to the employee. The employee must believe that management believes in the processes and procedures they recommend. A sure way to create doubt is to say one thing and do another.
4. Assuming Employees Just "Get It." Never assume. Seek employee feedback and have them demonstrate concepts so that you know they "get it." Management cannot know if the employees are implementing the proper processes and procedures unless they assess the employees, and seek and provide feedback. Role playing is an effective method that can be used to both train and assess the employee simultaneously.
5. Never Participating in Training. Management must take an active role in the training process along with the employees. Your presence alone will raise employee appreciation and confidence. However, nothing replaces the first-hand knowledge you as management receives by participating in your own training.
6. Assuming Training is a Panacea. Training alone cannot be considered a cure-all. Management must ensure the employees are provided the proper tools and atmosphere to deliver optimal member service that lives up to management's expectations. This may include processes, technology, feedback mechanisms, recurrent training, etc. An integrated process must be developed in order for the desired outcomes to be achieved.
7. Not Discussing Strategies Nor Following Up With Employees Periodically. Training is not a one-time event. If the training employees receive is only delivered once, without periodic reinforcement, the strategies and lessons learned are bound to be forgotten. And management needs to discuss the strategies for which training is being provided. Why is the training taking place? What are the desired outcomes? How will the member benefit?
8. Waiting Until 4th Quarter to Assess Their Progress During The Year. Often management assessment of programs and performance is relegated to a one-time, end-of-year exercise. It is impossible to make an accurate assessment in this manner.
Assessment needs to be a continuous process throughout the year. Incremental adjustments and fine-tuning need to occur in real-time throughout the year. This is the only way management can maintain the pulse of the business and review and adjust as necessary to maximize the operation and ultimately member service. Of course, coaching and accountability are key elements of the assessment process. Coaching and accountability should be a continual process throughout the year to ensure employees maintain their new skills and do no revert back to their old "comfort zone".
9. Having A Pep TalkIn January Of Each Year & Expecting That To Be Enough. This goes hand-in-glove with the idea that one should not assess progress only once-a-year in the 4th quarter. Likewise, management should go much further than a once-a-year pep talk and expect that to be enough to motivate and drive employees to properly implement your programs. First, motivating employees should be a top-of-mind business process within your company. This may even include formal reward and recognition programs to keep employees motivated and on-track in delivering your desired outcomes.
In addition to motivation, ongoing training should be a part of your program. As mentioned earlier, your program should be assessed and fine-tuned as necessary on a continual basis. And employees need to be trained and re-trained continually with program refreshers and updates. This ensures the program is maintained and delivered as desired.
10. Running the Strategic Planning Sessions the same way every year vs. having an outside trained facilitator to get a fresh outlook (fresh eyes and ears approach). Management should never assume that all the answers can be found by looking inwardly. While internal management can certainly add perspective, they more than likely cannot add the "fresh" perspective that an outside party can offer. Nevertheless, management should observe and participate during the strategic planning process so that they may provide a guiding voice throughout the process from both a manager's perspective as well as from the perspective of the team.
Mike Colvin is Executive Vice President and Principal at LEVEL5 and can be reached at 404-761-0008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.