Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quote of the Day

Golden Rule principles are just as necessary for operating a business profitably as are trucks, typewriters, or twine. -- James Cash (J.C.) Penney

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keys to Solve Performance Problems

Let Employees Solve Their Own Performance Problems
By Eric Harvey and Paul Sims,
Adapted from DDI's Managing Employee Motivations

One of your team members has a performance problem. So, you meet with him or her to discuss the issue. You describe the problem and ask for an explanation. Then, you come face to face with an all-too- common trap: Telling the person what he or she needs to do to solve the problem. DON’T GO THERE!

Granted, you probably have good ideas about what works and how to accomplish expectations. Keep in mind, however, that it’s the employee’s responsibility to resolve the problem – not yours. Your job is to facilitate the discussion so that the person understands the problem and is given an opportunity to correct it. Be prepared to offer suggestions if asked, but give the employee a chance to come up with his or her own solutions.

Why do it that way? The answer is simple: Ownership!

People tend to work harder for their own ideas. Solutions they participate in developing become commitments that are much more likely to yield quick and permanent results.You can guide the employee in identifying solutions by asking three simple questions:

1. What specifically can you do … by when? (This helps the person pinpoint specific actions)

2. Can you think of anything that would prevent you from doing that?(This helps identify potential obstacles and eliminates “down the road” excuses)

3. Will you do that?(This locks-in the employee’s agreement/commitment)

People commonly respond with I’ll do my best or I’ll try harder. These aren’t solutions – they’re just statements … with lots of wiggle room. If you hear them, respond by telling the employee that you appreciate his or her cooperation, and then ask, “What specifically will you do to carry out these good intentions?”

Monday, March 9, 2009

12 Keys to Training ROI

By William D. Cravenor, M.I.M.

1. Training is not just a box on the organization chart–it is everyone’s responsibility

2. Training is a continuous activity–it never stops

3. Training should promote continuous improvement–good enough is never good enough

4. Training involves day-to-day communication with staff–to exhort, encourage, and exchange ideas for process, performance and revenue improvement

5. Training (in a formal classroom setting) should not consume peak sales time (7 AM to 7 PM), i.e., brown bag lunches, if necessary

6. Training should be progressive–leveraging technology (VLE’s) to connect staff to core competencies

7. Training is pragmatic–meeting the real-world needs of real people to produce real results

8. Training is spontaneous–addressing needs in a timely fashion before they become problems

9. Training is specialized–to meet the specific demands of individual staff in their position and level of maturation

10. Training is localized–if at all possible, should be conducted in the closest proximity to the location wherein desired results are to be achieved

11. Training is results based–there are no substitutes for desired results

12. Training is dynamic–quickly adapting to the changing needs of employees

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Measuring the "Success" of Training

by W.D. Cravenor, M.I.M.

During the last twenty years of my experience in training, the following overarching and underpinning truths have made themselves abundantly clear:

The relative success of any training program is predicated initially upon the quality of the recruitment paradigm. Despite what others may say to the contrary, the caliber of candidates for any training program does matter in terms of the likelihood of producing desired outcomes within a statistical comfort zone as necessary to justify the ongoing investment in future training.

The conveyance of knowledge is not tantamount to the application of knowledge, i.e., wisdom. While most training programs are excellent sources of knowledge, few adequately build a bridge to cross the river into application. As a result the 80/20 rule applies to virtually every form of endeavor.

The vast majority of governments and businesses predicate the “quality” of training as a derivative of employee retention. In other words, the fallacy states that as employees become more tenured they also become more productive, due to their assumed proper application of knowledge. This is blatantly false. After all, even a parrot can spout back knowledge without a modicum of understanding. This is why most PhD’s couldn’t get a job making coffee at Starbucks if their collective lives depended on it. People generally do best for others what they do least for themselves, as in the do vs. teach conundrum.

Training is part of a continuum, being boxed on either side by recruitment and retention. Many HR professionals mistakenly seek to segregate these three functions as discrete organizational elements. My view is that these functions are interrelated and integrated much like an assembly line. Excellent recruitment practices tend to develop more satisfied and goal (if not career) oriented new hires. Candidates for a training program that have a stakeholder position related to career development are more likely to blossom with training and become consistent, productive members of their respective organizations. This outcome tends to be the case regardless of the quality of training. Training will facilitate the development process but not dictate it.

The determination of exactly what constitutes a “successful training program” varies depending upon the stakeholder. Statistically, it is very difficult to adequately isolate the “training effect” and thereby factor out all other extraneous elements as related to management proficiencies, candidate considerations such as attitude, outside influences (for good or ill) and changes in market or economic conditions. While there are many models and protocols that claim accuracy with regard to effectively assessing the success of both long & short training programs, the plain truth is that it is almost impossible to do so.