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HR That Works

Strategies and Tools that Will Inspire Great HR Practices for Your Agency and Clients!


Don Phin Don Phin , 3/11/2014
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Two woodsmen were each cutting a large tree. The first woodsman took two hours to fell his tree. While he was chopping away, he noticed that his colleague was taking a break every 15 minutes. To his great surprise, the other woodsman chopped his tree down first. Afterwards, woodsman #1 approached woodsman #2 and said “I can’t believe you dropped your tree before I did, especially since you were taking breaks!” Replied woodsman #2, “I wasn’t taking breaks; I was sharpening my saw.”
As Steven Covey says, one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is continuously sharpening your (and your company’s) saw. In today’s knowledge economy, shrewd managers see training as an ongoing process essential for sustained growth. Conceptually, training involves two separate areas: technical and emotional. Although it’s easy to provide technical training through online and computer-based applications, emotional training requires people to communicate directly. For example, reading material and a Web-based training program on sexual harassment doesn’t dig deep enough to deal with the real emotional issues involved. Only dialogue can do that.
Here are five reasons why training programs fail – and how you can make them succeed:
  1. Failure to commit. You need to commit your company to training as a process rather than an event. The company must understand its skill and cultural needs, and have a strategic plan, budget, schedule, and a way to benchmark results.
  2. Poor training tools. Not all training tools are created equal. There’s no such thing as a generic program. For example, there are dozens of online tools for technical training. To test which programs are most effective with your workers, have different employees each try one program and then compare the results.
  3. Poor follow-up. One-time training seldom works. Just as you can’t teach someone to ride a bike by reading a book, people can’t learn a new skill by attending a single training session. There must be a follow-up process to incorporate what was learned during the training experience.
  4. Lack of employee incentive. Why should your employees want to go to training? What rewards or payoffs will they obtain? How will you reinforce the learning experience so the employee wants to do it again?
  5. Failure to leverage the training effort Let’s say that one of your employees gains a valuable insight during a training session. To what extent do you encourage them to share this information with coworkers who it might impact? How do you encourage them to use what they’ve learned to help the company run more effectively? What are you doing to leverage the bang for your training buck?
Avoid these five traps – and you’ll be well on your way to sharpening your company’s saw.