Achieving Results by focusing on the Human Factor
Training is generally defined as “change in behavior” – yet, how many trainers and managers forget that, using the term training only as applicable to “skills training”? What about the human element? What about those very same people we want to “train”? What about their individual beliefs, backgrounds, ideas, needs and aspirations? In order to achieve long-term results through training, we must broaden our vision to include people development as part of our strategic planning. Although training covers a broad range of subjects under the three main categories (skills, attitude, knowledge), using the term “training” without linking it to “development” narrows our concept of the training function and leads us to failure.
When we limit our thinking, we fall into the trap of:
A. Classifying people into lots and categories
B. Thinking of “trainees” as robots expected to perform a job function
C. Dismissing the individual characteristics of people and the roles they play
D. Focusing only on “what needs to be done” without adequately preparing the trainees involved to accept and internalize what is being taught.
We are dealing with human thoughts, feelings and reactions which must be given equal (if not more) attention than to the skill itself. We thus create a double-focus: people development and skills training. These two simultaneous objectives will give us the right balance and guide our actions to reach our goal. To clarify our training and development objectives, and identify our criteria for success, we must ask ourselves a few questions:
Do we expect an automatic, faultless job performance?
Does attitude count?
Does goodwill count?
Do loyalty and dedication count?
Does goal-sharing count?
Does motivation count?
Do general knowledge and know-how count?
Do people-skills count?
Does an inquisitive mind count?
Does initiative count?
Does a learning attitude count?
Does a sense of responsibility count?
Do team efforts count?
Do good work relations count?
Does creative input count?
Do we want employees to feel proud of their role and contribution?
How can we expect such qualities and behavior if we consider and treat our personnel as “skills performers”? However, we could achieve the desired results if we address the personal development needs of the employees involved. When we plan for both “training” and “development”, we achieve a proper balance between the needs of the company and those of the trainees. The synergy created takes us to new levels, to a continuing trend of company growth.
Our consideration of the people involved results in work motivation, goal-sharing, and a sense of partnership. Not only do the employee-trainees perform at the desired levels, but they offer to the company and its customers their hidden individual gifts and talents, and this reflects itself in the quality of service. Customers feel and recognize efficient performance, motivation and team-work. They become loyal customers. We can learn from the case of a small restaurant operator who had become desperate at the negligent attitude of his servers, resulting in customer complaints. He decided to seek professional expertise to help him replace his employees with “motivated, trained” people fresh out of a waiter’s training school.
Following some probing questions it came to light that, besides hourly pay, he did not offer much to attract and retain loyal and dedicated employees. Through professional consultation, he came to realize that even if he paid higher wages to new “trained” employees, the problem would persist because employees want more than wages from their work place. They want:
Organization and professional management
Information regarding the business and its customers
Recognition for their role in the company’s success
Acknowledgement of their individual capacities and contributions
Positive discipline / fairness
A say in the way the business is run.
The restaurant operator realized that until then he had treated his employees as “plate carriers” and this is exactly how they had behaved and performed. He was ready to change his mode of operation: he diverted his focus to the needs of his employees, re-structured his organization, planned new operational strategies, a human resources strategy, training and development guidelines, disciplinary rules and regulations. He communicated and shared these in a meeting with his employees and handed out the employee handbook prepared for that purpose. He also reminded them of their responsibilities towards the business, the customers, and themselves (taking charge of their own training, development, and work performance). They were more than pleased when he asked them to express their opinions, make comments and suggestions.
He was surprised at the immediate transformation that took place. He began receiving excellent reviews from his customers, the employees worked as a team, their motivation sky-rocketed and he never had to replace them! All this was accomplished by extending the previous concept of training to that of training and people development.
Training and Development represents a complete whole that triggers the mind, emotions and employees’ best work performance. It is not only business managers and owners who must do this shift in thinking, but Human Resources Directors and Training Managers (whose title should be “Training and Development” Managers). By their actions, they should offer a personal example, coaching and guiding all the people in an organization to think “beyond training” and invest efforts in people’s:
Contrary to what some manager’s think, people do not quit a place of work as soon as they have grown personally and professionally through training and development programs – at least they do not do so for a long while. They become loyal to their employer and help him/her grow business-wise, which offers them more opportunities. They chart their own course for career advancement within the broader framework of organizational growth.
Do we not call employees our “human resources asset”? Whatever their positions, each expect to be treated as such; when they are, they give more than their physical presence at work.
Article By: Claire Belilos