Training does NOT change behavior
Updated: May 7
I don’t know how many times I have repeated this phrase to managers but it doesn’t seem to sink in. The first thing they want to do when there is an ongoing issue is send the poor performer, or person behaving poorly, to training so they know how to behave or perform.
What is the issue?
Perhaps this is more of an issue of confrontation and constructive feedback. Ultimately, in this day and age, that is called coaching. It seems that the underlying issue, when a supervisor requests that an employee be sent to a mandated training, is that they just don’t know what to do. If they do anything at all they typically tell their superior that they have talked to the person but the problem still exists, and throw their hands in the air.
Nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis—a number that increased to 72% for employees under age 30. Less than 30% said they receive it. PWC survey results.
Simple but complex, supervisor training
This is much simpler than it sounds because it is just a matter of training managers how to manage people. They may have been good at their job in a previous position but then they were promoted because of that previous success. While some progressive organizations take the time to train their newly promoted supervisors, most do not. Some have good intentions but don’t make it a priority, and then when they are confronted with an employee issue, early into the new job, they are not sure what to do.
Managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability. Gallup survey results.
Public speaking analogy
To reiterate this manager training issue, let’s use an analogy of your first-time having to speak in public. Assuming you have ever spoken in public, you know that you want to prepare and say the right thing. You are fearful of saying the wrong thing, and quite frankly, if you didn’t have to do it you probably wouldn’t. If you decided that you needed to speak because it was a very important topic or issue you would want some guidance and pointers from someone who has done it and is good at it, or someone who has dealt with the same issue. So you go ahead and speak in public with no experience or practice and it doesn’t turn out good. There are all kinds of repercussions from people dismissing you as clueless to people being upset or mad.
Putting it in context
The above analogy is real. This is how workforces become disengaged. This is why people leave bosses not companies. This is why organizations suffer through low morale and low productivity, killing profit margins in the process. Now try to picture a first time supervisor who doesn’t know the best way to manage their conversations with their subordinates. They say all the wrong things and before you know it that great employee, turned manager, isn’t so successful anymore, despite their previous success.
92% of respondents agreed with the assertion, "Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving peerformance." Zenger and Folkman survey results
How to solve the problem
When you promote a first-time supervisor it should be in their development plan to get supervisor training and coaching. They should learn how to approach behavior problems, performance problems, motivation problems, how to spot and confront personal issues and how to coach individual and team performance for maximum results. They also need to practice what they learn in training. They need someone to coach them and have a mentor they can look to for constructive feedback so they can give constructive feedback. They need a leader who can be all the things discussed in this blog post or who is willing to get the same training.
OK, what’s my next step?
If your organization suffers in any of these areas consider finding a trainer who can train and perhaps coach and mentor your leaders and supervisors. Perhaps you have an internal trainer or training department that has this knowledge but just needs to be empowered. Maybe your trainer or training team needs to attend training and prepare a strategy to provide this for your organization. Whether you go outside the organization or tackle this problem internally your employees will thank you for recognizing them as people you can talk to and engage for their perspectives. Show empathy and compassion and learn the proper ways to deal with their issues. Keeping your workforce will make a difference to your bottom line, guaranteed!
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Statistics adapted from LinkedIn Talent Solutions