Training & Awareness Programs: New Year’s Resolutions

As we go into the new year, think about what you want to accomplish with your various training and awareness programs. Be realistic about the reasons you have them and what you hope to accomplish. If some of them are strictly for compliance purposes, so that you can say you have done it, be honest about it and that might determine how you deliver it. However, if you are trying to change workplace performance, consider the following resolutions.

  1. Focus, focus, focus. Too many organizations have trouble focusing on the handful of things that would really make a difference for their organization. Instead, they try to cover 15, 30, or more topics while impacting almost none. Think about it, if you could get every single employee across your enterprise to consistently execute on 3-5 things, wouldn’t that be a success? So, what are the 3-5 things that would make the most difference. Find that and focus on it and you’ll see results.
  2. Identify Desired Behaviors. Some companies spend lots of money on programs that are more akin to brand marketing campaigns than they are to workplace performance programs. “Customer service is the best deterrent to shoplifter” or “Do the right thing” are hard catch phrases to argue with but what do they tell your employees about what you want them to do? Too often we remain at the conceptual level and obfuscate the actual things we hope the target audience will do once they are on the job. Research shows that employees want to be told, in clear terms, what they need to do to be successful.
  3. Get Front-Line Management On-board. Yes, “tone at the top” and executive support are important. Yes, well-designed instruction and materials are important. Yes, knowledge and skill retention are important. But, none of those things matter if an employee’s front-line supervisor does not support the desired performance or change. The single most important influence on any employee is their supervisor. If they don’t support the training you are putting together and if they do not follow-up on performance, you chances of success are severely limited.
  4. Don’t Forget to Train Your Managers. In most organizations, there seems to be an assumption that once a person is promoted or hired into a management position and goes through their initial training, they never need any recurrent training or performance support again. I’ve talked to Store Managers who have been in position for over five years and could not recall a training program geared towards them since they received their initial training.
  5. Reach the People You Need to Reach. Who are the employees who most need to receive your message? Are these the ones that you are actually reaching? These seem like simple questions but the answers don’t often match up. Of course, you usually want everyone in your organization to receive your training message but who are the “at risk” employees. When it comes to theft, absenteeism, productivity, product knowledge, accidents, and various types of workplace deviance, the “at risk” employee is usually an employee with low tenure, part-time, and usually working at night or on the weekends. Is this who you are actually reaching?

If you can achieve these five resolutions in 2012, you can be certain you will see increased workplace performance.



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