In my previous post, I make the case that the manager is the most high impact trainer in any organization. The manager has the ability to subvert anything that was trained merely through one comment or gesture.
But what about the opposite? What if the manager reinforces what was covered in training? What happens then?
The answer: The employee performs according to the training.
Let’s assume, for now, that the training actually has something valuable in it. That the people who created the training did the research, know what the proper performance ought to be, and trained a great class designed to help employees on the job.
The employee leaves the training and now has to apply it to the work environment.
Here are the things that the manager can do to reinforce the training:
1. Ask the employee what he learned in training
How often has this happened? Not enough! If an employee goes to a training class, industry conference, safety briefing, or any other “learning”, this should be the first course of action. It is unlikely that the manager attends all of the training that the employees attend, so now the employee has to share the content with the manager. It’s the manager’s job to listen.
In recent articles, I’ve explored how a manager’s subtle or not-so-subtle behaviors can influence how a team operates. Think about this – the manager, through the subtle power of suggestion or through overt directive action, can shape how a team performs, make a difference as to whether the team succeed or fails, establish whether it is a good working environment or not, and contribute to whether the organization is successful or not.
This is because the manager is the most high impact trainer in the organization, and should be treated as such.
Many organizations have robust training departments. These departments might offer a series of training classes on technical skills, soft skills, legal compliance, team building, job safety, and the like. These classes might last as long as week or be as short as one-hour. Increasingly, “eLearning” offerings offer a tutorial on how to do something or stay in compliance. In many cases, these training organizations track whether or not the employees have taken a series of classes, and it is tracked with great robustness on the employee’s record in what is called a Learning Management System (LMS).
But note that these classes last for a finite period of time. The class, no matter how interactive or high impact learning the design may be, ends. The employee always leaves the training arena, whether it was eLearning or classroom, and then goes back to the job.
Then what happens? It’s now entirely dependent on what the manager reinforces or punishes.
Whatever cues the manager makes, no matter how subtle, will determine whether the employee will apply what was discussed, trained, practiced and reinforced in the training class.
Let’s look at one example.