The conversations around the need for training can sometimes seem like they’re taken out of a book of Mad Libs. Perhaps you’ve heard a version of the following Mad Lib before:
All too often some managers, HR professionals, even some trainers propose training as an automatic response to address performance issues. Training – in the form of an in-house refresher course, an industry-specific conference, an article, a book, a multi-million dollar elearning module or anything in between – is certainly one tool. But it’s just one tool, it’s not the overarching solution.
Before training enters a manager’s mind, asking the following questions about an employee’s performance gap(s) can save a lot of time and money:
- Is it actually within the employee’s job description and duties?
- Is it related to a core competency necessary to be successful in the employee’s position?
- Has the employee’s manager identified and shared specific, observable behaviors describing the perceived performance gap?
- Have specific actions, goals and milestones been identified for the employee to illustrate what success in addressing a performance gap would look like?
- Has the employee received prior education/training on how to competently address the performance gap?
- Has the employee been given time on the job to allow him/her to attempt to apply new knowledge, skills, abilities or behaviors learned in training?
- Has the employee been observed and had an opportunity to receive feedback on his/her initial attempts to apply new knowledge, skills, abilities or behaviors in addressing the performance gap?
Addressing performance gaps requires managers to play the role of a detective, asking the right questions and gathering information. While training can offer enormous dividends if it’s connected to specific learning needs and performance gaps, employee development also requires a manager that is invested in the continuous development of his/her staff. Ongoing coaching, support and feedback will trump the idea of “more training” almost every time.
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