Monday, April 5, 2010

A New Perspective on Training

THEME: New Year, More Challenges

FOCUS: A New Perspective on Training

Monday morning: April 5, 2010

Dear friends,

The world of training and development is going through a transformation. All subjects are being offered over the internet, because a digital trainers can be downloaded at any time and any place. Years ago, we talked about the importance of just-in-time training. Now, there is a just-in-seconds-or-less training options being offered via the internet. All an employee needs to do is plug in, power up, and then just sit and listen. The miracle of the digital economy is that everything is at your finger tips.

However, in my opinion, this way of learning is meaningless. It is nothing more than TV learning. In a world where everything is fast and getting faster, TV learning has a retention time period in the length of nanoseconds. I recognize that knowledge is dispensed but the form, does not assure that it is learned.

With this in mind, it is time for us to take a different perspective on training. The actual learning process at a company begins when prospective employees are interviewed for a job. The questions that are asked and the answers that are given define what is the best way to match talents with opportunities. It also defines cultural expectations about performance and organizational focus.

Once an employee is hired, national statistics indicate there is a 33% chance of turnover in the first six months. Rather than thinking of on-boarding as filling out paperwork and mandatory HR/Risk Management training, it is time to explore this period in a new light. First, we know that followers bond with leaders before they bond with strategic plans. Second, we also know that people quit who they report to, not always the companies where they work. Therefore, the on-boarding process needs to be the first step in a long bonding period where employees are clear about the culture of the organization, the expectations of the organization and mission of the organization. It also is the next step in relationship building which started during the interview process.

Years ago, I learned that “a loving person lives in a loving world, and an angry person lives in an angry world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.” When we envision on-boarding as more than meetings and begin to truly recognize that it is the foundation for long term employment, then we need to include in the initial relationship building time period, both mirrors and windows. Mirrors to understand where we are coming from as we enter into this new place of work and windows into how this new place of work responds and integrates with it’s service environment. Rather than thinking of this training and development time as an expense which will drain fiscal resources from the company, we now need to think of it as a continuum that will build sustainability into the organization’s strategy and culture.

In an article called “Secrets of an Operational CEO, in the January/February 2010 issue of Chief Executive magazine (, Bob Nardelli, CEO of the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, and former CEO of Home Depot and Chrysler, notes “One of the basics in any recovery is finding the best talent. You can never ‘over-talent’ a job in today’s environment.” Later he explains how to develop a talent management strategy. “You have to take it [talent development] seriously as you do any capital investment. When I went to Chrysler, I spent about 240 hours going page by page over the top talent to understand who they were and what their backgrounds and aspirations were.... I had to dig deep to understand what talent I had and elevate some individuals to take some risk.... There’s a saying, ‘If you had a buck, you’d spend 99 cents on talent.’ Rings loud with me. If we’re honest, we all probably have leather-bound binders on the shelf with great strategies that no one will ever know about because we didn’t have the talent to execute them.”

This week rethink training and development. Start by drawing a line with hiring at the beginning to senior management at the end. Then, mark off critical points of learning along this line. The world of training and talent development is deeply connected to the mission of the organization, not just digital trainers on the internet.

Have a fantastic week,


Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change

Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257

1 comment:

  1. Hi Geery -

    I agree with your comments about on-boarding. I see it as a critical piece to employee retention and to enable employees to have purpose and contribute to the organization. Unfortunately I have seen organizations pay little to no attention to effective on-boarding.

    I respectfully disagree with your comment that online training is "meaningless." I finished my bachelor's degree online and I am about to graduate again, earning a master's degree from an accredited online program. Like any training - classroom, online, or otherwise - if it's done right, it adds value. All training must be centered around learning goals and objectives and be held to high standards. While I enjoy face-to-face interaction, my courses also involve a large degree of interaction and I get to know my fellow students and professor, even if I don't know what they look like. And, with any format of training, the learner gets back what they put into it.

    Thanks, Geery.

    ~ darcy