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HUMAN RESOURCES

Maximizing Performance

Training solves problems. But only certain kinds of problems. If your workforce does not know how to do a job, then training is the right response. Here are five typical instances of where training could be utilised best:
1. A new job or new system is introduced;
2. Improvement in quality or timing or productivity is needed;


Mari Novak

Training solves problems. But only certain kinds of problems. If your workforce does not know how to do a job, then training is the right response. Here are five typical instances of where training could be utilised best:

1. A new job or new system is introduced;

2. Improvement in quality or timing or productivity is needed;

3. One element in workflow or the work system has changed and you need to rethink how to do the whole job (training can speed this up);

4. People know the job, but need practice (practice is without risk - the customer is not depending on production quality);

5. Over time the workforce gradually drifts away from the perfect performance, and needs to be brought back to high quality standards.

One or more of these five situations will apply if team members in a working group remain the same, if a new person is hired or brought onto the team, if the customer changes or wants something different (or more or faster), if a new machine/technology is introduced, if the product is modified or changed. In any dynamic company, the situation or the need is going to be present, and that is why training is usually part of the manager's responsibilities.

Many managers will argue that no training is needed. The firm is profitable. It has a static and well-performing team. There is no competition. Training costs are high; there is no need for training. The sad truth is that companies that do not understand the need for training, probably also do not understand the competitive and changing nature of doing business. They will likely not survive any serious change.


Steven Kelly

Some of the resistance may come from managers who have paid for some kind of training, but have seen no effect. They feel they have not gotten value for their money, time or effort. There may be two reasons for this.

The first is that the trainer did not understand how to be effective. Use professionals with successful experience. Talk about evaluation. Talk about integrating the new performance standards into your operation. Talk about the problem, the need, the desired end result. Make sure the training addresses YOUR problem, not the trainer's package of programmes.

The second issue is that the problem may not be one that can be solved by training, or that one session is not going to solve the problem. Frequently the difficulty is that it is the level of management ABOVE the problem that really needs to rethink and relearn how the job should be done and integrated into the rest of the work.

This is very common. It is the reality of problems in the workplace. It is natural. Why? Because NOTHING stays the way you put it for very long. It is natural for things to break down and for people to slip into easy habits or patterns and let one or two non-quality items get through, etc. Sometimes training can bring the workforce back into the performance-and-profitability loop.

Training is the ongoing maintenance of a level of performance and quality necessary to maintain and improve your market share. It is not enough to say it once: the market is changing: are you keeping up with it?


Mari Novak and Steven Kelly are partners at KNO Slovensko. Their column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to kno@kno.sk.

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