Friday, January 25, 2013

Why Training Matters: If you care, you'll share

Nothing is more frustrating than starting a new position without the proper training. To cut costs, many companies are foregoing training and relying on peer collaboration or self-learning to pacify new employees. What's sad though, is they have employees believing it is an intentional strategy to encourage innovative thinking.

What it's really about is the bottom line. Sure, employees can and do benefit from interacting with each other. But most workers are too busy getting their own work done to effectively help teach coworkers. Others are too caught up in a routine and don't enjoy the disruption of having to share knowledge. While businesses think they're saving money and time, what they're encouraging is inefficiency.
Training can be expensive, but the alternative is having an employee waste time trying to figure things out. The time used to hunt information down can be better utilized on other tasks. Worse, employees who are overlooked for training wind up making mistakes, some which can be very costly.

Let's step aside from the profit aspect for just a moment. I've heard it time and again from colleagues and friends just how enfuriating it is when they don't receive quality training. Being thrown into the thrust of a new position and expected to deliver can be demoralizing when you don't know what's expected of you. Who wants to admit they don't know what they're doing? What this leads to turnover, with employees leaving the company for ones that care enough to train them.

A Gallup poll revealed that 60 percent of government workers surveyed were absolutely miserable at work because they didn't know what was expected of them. This was viewed as a larger problem than being underpaid or receiving inadequate benefits. What led to this high return of unhappiness was the perception that managers did not care about their workers' development. If managers are not properly guiding their employees, then they really don't. And expecting them to complete online training courses is neither leadership nor concern for an employee's performance.

At my company, the director has launched a Lunch and Learn program which allows department members, including himself and all managers, to meet once a month and tackle a new topic. This includes everything from being exposed to a new software program to learning about the different services the company offers. So far, so good. The feedback as been positive and many of my colleagues look forward to future events. Now, that's leadership.

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