Thursday, January 28, 2010
There is no nice way to put this...
Lots of managers are terrible at being managers.
Some are manipulative, some are glory-hogs taking credit for staff accomplishments, some hide behind rules instead of taking the lead, some are know-it-all's, and some are control freaks who micromanage employees to death.
If you're in the HR department, you know I'm telling the truth. You see it, hear about, and all too often, try to clean up the messes bad management leaves behind. So what is HR doing about it?
Are you training your managers? Odds are, the answer is no.
Somewhere, somehow, we got the idea that training was for the rank and file. Managers occupied a glorified, exempt realm where they were free from all training needs except for the odd time-management seminar or maybe an intro to the newest corporate initiative to reorganize the rank and file.
And that's sad. Because the right training at the right time could transform those rule-huggers and glory hogs into leaders. A properly designed workshop could teach managers why their success depends upon letting their staff do what they do best without the pressure of micro-management. Good management training can introduce an emotionally-distant manager to the idea of collaborative success through listening, engagement and participation.
No, it is not a cure all. Some managers are just wrong for the job, and will spend the rest of their tenure exemplifying the Peter Principle, as they continue at their level of incompetence.
But with training, the majority of bad managers can become, at the very least, less bad. Lots can become pretty good. And a few, with the right tools and training, will become leaders.
Monday, January 25, 2010
There was a time, not too long ago, when employees who worked in hazardous areas or at hazardous job had to supply their own Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE.
I guess that seemed like a good policy at the time. It saved the company money, because the cost came out of the employees pocket. And in theory, since the employee was protecting themselves, they would be extra careful and make sure all the bases (or the fingers or whatever) were covered.
But in reality? Let's take the case of Pat. A good name that could apply to a woman or a man, so no one will be offended...or everyone will. Especially the Pats. But I digress...
OKAY....Pat comes to work. Pat is a machine operator who also has to use caustic chemicals from time to time. By industry standards and OSHA guidelines, Pat is supposed to use:
A hard hat
Heavy-duty, extra long gloves
Long sleeved shirts and long pants
A lab coat or smock over street clothes
A dust mask or respirator
Now Pat only makes $9.75 an hour. And PPE can get expensive. The boots alone are well over $100. So Pat skimps. Regular workboots from the discount store, no steel toes, go for $22.95. Heat and chemical resistant gloves? A pair of garden gloves instead. When it's hot, Pat wears a t-shirt. There haven't been any lab coats around the plant in years, so that's out. The rest of the stuff? Pat just doesn't have the money -- $9.75/hour only goes so far.
This went on for years. Then the rules changed.
In Rule 72:64341-64430, enacted in late 2007, OSHA declared that an
employer must pay for required PPE, except in the limited cases specified in the standard. Safety-toe protective footwear and prescription safety glasses were excepted from the employer payment requirement, in large part because these items were considered to be very personal in nature and were often worn off the jobsite.
Unfortunately, years of ignoring the standards for PPE have made employees lazy. And years of not having to pay for PPE has made employers lazy, too. But with OSHA stepping up enforcement, and industrial accidents rising, employers need to train their workers -- and themselves in safe PPE practices.
With the increased attention OSHA is paying to violations these days, training Pat -- and providing all the necessary PPE could save your company thousands.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Okay, okay, so it wasn't the next day. But hey, it was New Year's Eve. And if you're like most of us here, that first week back after the winter holiday madness was, well, more madness!
But now we're a week into 2010 and it's time to get back on track. So where was I? Oh yes, your objections to opening the box on training.
It costs too much.
This one had the most hands waving in the air, I'm sure. Budgets are tight. Got it. But how many people at your company are now expected to pick up the slack for those who have left -- or were let go?
When you eliminate a position or leave one vacant, you've not only cut costs, you've cut expertise and experience. Aside from the question of whether that saves you any money, there is the issue of keeping the business going.
So you need to, got to, have to, MUST train the remaining people so they can do their jobs AND the new job, too.
Hoping they'll "catch on" or figure it out is not a valid game plan. Too much risk for mistakes, and in today's sue-happy climate, that could cost BIG $$$$$.
And looking ahead, what happens when someone leaves unexpectedly, taking their expertise with them? People are still moving on, taking other jobs. Are your employees cross-trained well enough to pick up that now-vacant job, even for a short time if you do hire someone new?
And ALL OF THAT ASIDE....
Good training doesn't really cost that much. But you already knew that, didn't you. So on to the next excuse....
It takes too much time away from work
Did I hear you right? Training people to do their jobs better, or to feel better about their jobs is a waste of time???
We live in a world where nearly half of all employees DO NOT LIKE THEIR JOBS. And we all know that people who are happy at work perform better, work harder, and make less mistakes.
And yet people are waving those hands in the air claiming that training is a waste of time? That means one of three things:
1) You have bad training, and no one should be going. So you need to fix what's broken rather than consider it a plus that you're forcing only a small number of your employees to suffer through miserable training.
2) Your training is not useful to your business. Sure, it might be fun. Or it might be your trainer's favorite topic. But if it isn't really useful to your business and your employees, it's time to replace it with something that does matter. And then invite more people to share in the wealth.
3) You are too focused on the short-term, at the expense of the long-term. Sure, maybe Sally in IT isn't a manager yet. But she wants to be. And she's a good employee. So let her go to the management training class. It will benefit the company in the long run, whether she moves into management, or just learns some new skills to apply to her current job. Or even gains a better understanding of what managers do. It's ALL good.
The Big Number 3
There's one more excuse, but this one is usually not accompanied by waving hands. It might be whispered. But usually it's not even spoken.
We are afraid that if "they" know too much, "they" will think they have a right to make choices. To think for themselves. Maybe...and this is the scariest part...shoot for OUR jobs. Gasp! I said it! I broke the code of silence!
It's nothing new. It's the reason so many cultures through-out history have clamped down on education. The more the masses know, the more dangerous they are. Or could be.
But as an excuse, even a silent one, for holding back on training in 2010, it stinks. If managers are so insecure in their skills, they need to get better at what they do, instead of acting as roadblocks to improving the skills of their teams.
Worst of all, if this is the real reason and it's coming down from the top, your organization is in a heap of trouble. And at that point, training is the least of your worries.
So which is it? And why are those gates still closed? Are there reasons I haven't covered? Let me know. Post your thoughts or drop me an e-mail at trainingtimeblog at gmail.com.
And while you're at it, I'd love to hear your thoughts for topics I should cover. (BTW, MLM, discount pharmaceuticals, or the latest gadget you're selling are NOT open topics, so skip those e-mails and comments please.)
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Okay, I promise, this is the last post (for awhile!) on why you have to, must, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need to train your employees!
I was on Facebook, and came across a post from Milton Corsey, linking to a truly awesome article by Bill Bartmann over at Entrepreneur.
Bill listed the six myths about training employees (including the all-time fave "It costs too much" that I just dealt with in my last three posts.
If my rants and tantrums haven't convinced you that training is a non-negotiable MUST for the very top of your professional to-do list, check out his 6 points, then let me know what you think.