Supervisory Leadership

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Should our company have a training department?

Most companies do not have enough in-house training to justify a training department. They must get the training do with a mix of workers whose primary job is not training, trainers brought in from outside, outside training events, self-paced learning, and job aids or other materials, plus mentoring and other personal training.

There is company-orientation training. That's where employees learn about policies, procedures, and processes. In many companies, this is an ad hoc process.

There is technical training in the aspects of the work that needs to be done. In a manufacturing firm, that might mean running a lathe or forklift. In a retail store it would involve merchandising and sales. At a professional service firm it would cover the information and knowledge components of the work. This is the training that most firms do best.

And there is supervision-management-leadership skills training. This should cover the things that folks who are responsible for the performance of the group need to improve the way that they meet the two key objectives of a leader: accomplishing the mission and caring for the people. This is the area where most companies do a none-to-poor job. Companies need to increase the training here, but also pay attention to the 80 percent of these skills learned on the job, through observation, discussion and critique.

To do a good job of training, a company needs to know what training is needed and when. Then you design a program using the available methods.

In most companies today, "training" means "classroom training." Classroom training has its place, but that place is for subjects that are best taught in a group setting either for learning reasons or for administrative efficiency reasons.

Companies should pay more attention to measuring the effects of training and to training methods other than classroom sessions. In most places we need to pay a lot more attention to supervision-management-leadership training for first-line supervisors and middle managers. We need to pay more attention to job aids and other resources that should be available on the job. We need to move from just-in-case training to just-in-time training in many areas.


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