A 9-5 work ethic and nothing more?
I would suggest that a number of company training programs are not pushing new hires fast enough. I especially believe this is the case in a few areas:
- Training recent graduates
- Manager new to management who is training new hires
- Training programs that have not been updated
Do you have new employees who leave as soon as the clock ticks 5:00 PM? It might be your training program. I think we can all agree that employees want to feel valued and challenged. Whether you are an employee that is new to the company or has been with the company for 10 years, hopefully, the desires are the same. If the employee doesn’t want to feel valued or challenged, they are probably in the wrong job, or we hired incorrectly. Frankly is emotionally difficult to give a raise to an employee who isn’t challenged or is not growing.
Disclaimer: We obviously want to consider work-life balance and salaried vs. hourly employees. I am not looking to put trainees into a 70 hour work week. For companies and employees to get ahead, we need to do more than just 40 hours. For many companies, 40 hours a week is what it takes to get the day job done. To create opportunity, we need to put in extra time on new ideas and additional projects.
Common company training themes
As someone who started their career in corporate training and development, I have observed a few consistent themes when it comes to training:
- The goal of a company training program is to make the new hire to feel good, successful, and confident. We want the new employee to like the company and we want the new hire to like us as managers. These two goals can lead to making it easy on the new hire.
- In some cases, a manager will want to make sure that new hires masters a lesson 100% before teaching the next skill. It is easy for the manager to feel like the new hire is a direct reflection of the manager and if they don’t understand the concepts 100%, the new hire and the manager are both failing. Consequently, training programs are extended to allow for extra mastery of skills.
- Employees in a company training program can feel like they are a burden to the company because they are not adding value
Review old company training programs
What got us here won’t get us there
I am not saying we need to cut a training program by 50%. What I am suggesting is that we reevaluate our training programs. This is especially true for training programs that haven’t been reviewed or updated in a while. This is also an opportunity to replace outdated training material with new material.
- If the same 4-month training program has been in place for a few years, can we review the training and perhaps cut outdated programs to 3 or 3 and a half months? This could have the new hire adding value to the company 12.5% – 25% sooner.
- Give trainees small amounts of responsibility within the first few days or weeks, so they feel productive and are adding value?
- Set expectations through training deadlines or guidelines for training completion so employees understand expectations and can self govern?
Most companies aren’t conducting open heart surgery
This isn’t a blanket statement for all training programs. If you are running a training program for doctors and astronaut, yes, we need to master the skills. But maybe modules within technical training can be reviewed.
Obviously, we want new hires to feel good about themselves and company training. What I am asking for is a simple review of the training. Can we cut the training program by 10 or 20% because some of the material is outdated? Are we giving repetitious training because we are looking for mastery before we teach the next skill? If a training program is 4 months long, do trainees need to master a skill in month one before moving on to the next skill, or will the remaining 3 months in the training program give the trainee adequate time to reinforce new skills?
As managers, are we looking to feel 100% confident in a new hires skill before giving additional responsibility?
It’s a new generation
What I am proposing is that there is more than one way to make an employee feel good. I would like to throw out a few ideas in the hopes of giving managers responsible for training a new way of thinking about training. This is especially applicable where we are not conducting gun safety.
- Recent graduates are smart. This generation can multi-task and is used to learning quickly. What they don’t know, they know how to look up via multiple sources of research starting with Google. Earlier generations didn’t grow up with this luxury so may not be able to fully appreciate the capacity to learn quickly and efficiently. This is a skill and mentality that should be leveraged in training.
- Put deadlines on modules within training programs so the trainee not only understands what to shoot for but how to exceed expectations. By consistently exceeding expectations, training programs will be shorter and employees will feel better.
- Include activities where employees are working together as a team. This will set the tone for teamwork after the training and build a higher level of employee engagement.
- Recent graduates don’t know what they don’t know. If you are training employees for an entry-level job, then the recent graduate doesn’t have the experience to know what a real job entails. Think about how much you can push an employee vs. worrying about keeping the employee fat and happy.
Training room empty at 5:00
I have been around a lot of training programs and one thing we rarely see is trainees staying past 5:00. The trainee’s mentality is that they are done with training, so it is time to go home. That being said, do you ever notice that there is usually 1 trainee that continues to study past 5:00 and that trainee that goes on to do great things. There is obviously a different mentality here, but we can help coach and encourage work ethic through our training programs.
I suggest we design training plans such that a few hours of after work-study is needed to each week to succeed. If that after work-study can be done in teams or pairs, even better. This sets the tone for the work ethic after training is complete. If your training plan ends at 5:00 PM for the first 4 months, then we shouldn’t expect an employee to suddenly stay late at the desk in month 5. The company not only trained the job function but engrained the company’s work ethic as well.
More than one way to build self-confidence
Again, I am not trying to kill training and development. It is my first passion and I recommend additional training to employees all the time. What I want to emphasize is that graduating from a challenging training program can also build self-confidence and when employees go through challenging training together a bond can be built that can help lower turnover.
If an employee needs to be coddled through training, they are probably not going to succeed in the real world when sitting at the desk. I’d much rather realize we hired the wrong fit for the job early in a new hires tenure than months after a 4-month training program.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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