By Robert Cordray
Employee training and development is necessary in any sized organization to ensure the success of the company. Industry and organization are relatively new in the United States but have been a base on which labor forces have been established for centuries. There are a variety of types of training that employees can participate in presently, but it wasn’t always so. With a work force in the United States that includes all races, genders, age groups and backgrounds, the only way to ensure that employees are all on the same page regarding the mission and vision of a company is through training and development.
The most important factor in training and development has always been effective communication. Training consultants, employees, staff and supervisors must have a horizontal chain of communication for purposeful training to occur. For effective and purposeful training, one point of view must be achieved regardless of the varied generations and cultural backgrounds. If communication is broken, the chain of command will be broken as well. If employees do not know what your expectations are, how can they achieve them?
Ineffective Methods of Training Employees
Because training and development are a function of human resource or personnel management, historically, this meant that the owner of a business was the person responsible for training. With this method of training, the trainer basically disseminated information and the employee was the receiver of that information, expected to then implement the information which was given. The problem with this type of training is that employees don’t always take ownership in a job which they have very little say about. When employer talks “at” an employee, the employee can sometimes feel as though the only role of responsibility is to perform the task assigned in a rote fashion.
As organizations began to appear and organizational management became an issue of much larger proportions, owners had to delegate those responsibilities to human resource managers. Human resource managers then had to look at the pool of existing employees and utilize the resources to maximize production.
More Effective Human Resource Training Methods
Human resource training quickly evolved to human resource development, removing the hierarchal framework of ‘boss’ and ’employee’ or ‘subordinate’ and ‘master’. Rather than simply tell employees what the expectations should be, employers began to treat them as peers in the workplace, encouraging initiative and active participation, and implementing employee recognition programs to award the efforts of employees where recognition was due. When employees feel as though they are valued and not underestimated, the training process is more effective and longer lasting. Learning and development has much more far reaching implications in the workplace than human resources training.
Several different tenets of organizational management have been tried throughout the centuries, yet today the most effective seems to be that which includes the employee in the decision making process of the company. As employees take ownership of their employment and the place for which they work, an added sense of responsibility leads to greater pride in accomplishments and higher production.
Successful training and development includes three components: training (focused on the current job role), education (focus on possible future jobs) and development (focus on the possibilities of the organization as a whole). Many trainers have found that demonstrating how to accomplish a task and then watching actively as the employee tries is a very effective way to ensure that employees understand their roles.
Part of the training process involves helping employees see the value in getting along with and working in tandem with the boss. There is no such thing as a successful battle with the boss. In past times, when the economy was poor and people needed a job to survive, a boss or upper manager was free to get away with practically anything. As times progressed, however, employees began to move into a place of importance as industry realized that, without productive workers, there would be no business. Today, most organizations have a lateral, horizontal template of management with the upper managers disseminating information and overseeing the day to day activities. By providing employees with the necessary tools to do their jobs, employers enable employees to reach their maximum potential. Historically, employees were not considered as part of the team.
By developing talent within an organization, employees, stakeholders and employers will be able to experience growth overall. When employees are considered as valued parts of the business, amazing things can happen. In the 1900’s, for example, employees were shown how to physically perform a task and then left alone to their own devices. Today, employers teach how to perform a skill, demonstrate the performance and then watch as the employee performs the task alone. In a successful organization, professional development is not something that occurs once but it is an ongoing process which the employee participates in actively. Different kinds of training could include professional skills training, technical training, customer service training, sales education, as well as health and safety training.
Employee training has evolved exponentially. Employees were simply thought of as commodities at one point, a casualty of production that was expendable. Now, employers have realized the value of education and keeping good workers and the many benefits that training and development can have on the business and the bottom line overall. Rather than simply demonstrating how to perform a task, employers are now explaining how and why a task is to be performed and encouraging employees to continue training as an ongoing process. It is highly expected that during the 21st century, more companies will start to use more integrated terms such as talent development and resource enhancement rather than the antiquated ‘personnel training’.
Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. Follow him at @RobertCordray.