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  • Writer's pictureGrant

Is your Training a Strategy or a Tragedy?

Last month I published an article about questioning techniques and was planning to follow that up with another one on recruitment.

However, some recent conversations with businesses have got me thinking about training, how to strategically plan it and how this will impact on your recruitment. The pair of activities are linked and therefore we should consider them as a partnership and not individually.

Why is it important that you plan training strategically? It’s the difference between recruiting the right person for the right role and just recruiting someone to complete a set of tasks. Your recruitment and training should be linked to the goals the company has set. IT should also ensure that recruitment and training is aimed at the right area and not just about getting people at the coalface.

What do I mean by this? Working in construction as we do, the drive is for people to “do the site work.” That’s fair enough, but the impact of that can have consequences across the organisation in relation to other roles.

An example of this would be that we’ve started working with a construction company, that, to put it simply, is growing far faster than it can cope with. The drive has been to recruit site staff to do the work, which is fair enough, but that has also impacted on non-site staff where the workload is growing greatly with the same number of people expected to complete the work. What that actually means is that the people in those roles are potentially likely to:

1. Leave because the workload is too great

2. Go sick for the same reason

3. Make mistakes which could cost the company money in the short, medium and long term

I’m sure there are many more but these to me are the most crucial to avoid. However if we can link recruitment and training together then we can ensure the whole business benefits from these activities, people are supported and our recruitment activities become more effective and efficient.

Also, being able to do that means that potential employees get a far better experience through the whole recruitment, induction and training process which will improve retention, loyalty and longevity, as we can not only show them the present but also the future opportunities they will have working for the business. We will also be able to build emotional intelligence and discretional effort from the start as the job ceases to be seen as another “Groundhog Day” and somewhere they can build a career.

Companies spend an inordinate time and lots of money recruiting people don't they? Maybe you've done that yourself and are reading this wondering "what you've really got out of it?" Having the best person for the job is key isn't it? Especially if we are to achieve the aims we've set as a business.

When I speak to businesses about training they all tell me how important it is to them. However, when you get in the building and find out what really happens the actual reality is not borne out by the talk. In many cases there is a basic induction (if there's one at all) and maybe some help from inside the business in the form of a mentor to help new starters get to grips with the business and the job. In some cases this depends on whether you recruit for:

· Experience

· Attitude

· Skill

Each of these breeds a different induction (or on boarding - I hate that term) based on the following assumptions.

1. Experience - I find there is a lot of assumption here. Phrases like "they should know what they're doing" and "we don't need to train them because they know their stuff." We'll also discuss this in the "skills" part of this document, as the assumption that they have the required skills also follows the assumption around experience.

That in itself is OK, but the individual still needs some help to understand; how you do things, your processes and procedures and the culture of the business to name but 3. However, assumption means that they may not get this and it will take them longer to settle into the job and become productive. Conversely the employer also starts to have doubts as the individual who turned up for interview is not the one that's turning up for work. During this you'll be thinking "I've recruited a wrong 'un here" but what you're really doing is probably undermining their confidence and skills and they're already looking for another job as they think, they've "picked a wrong 'un" to work for.

2. Attitudes - recruiting for this can be really tricky. The assumption when people have a great attitude is that they can learn anything, and that is not necessarily untrue. We recruit people sometimes on the basis that they've walked in the door and blown us away. We’ve gotten carried away with all of that and offered them a job without really understanding the additional support they may need when we get them in the door.

What do they need in terms of skills and knowledge? What transferable skills and knowledge do they have? How can we use those to help settle them in. What plan do we have to build their skills and knowledge? Quite often, and like 1 above the ideal does not match the reality and you will lose them or they will decide to lose you.

3. Skill – This links heavily to experience, it’s a bit like love and marriage – you can’t have one without the other!

The thing is here that if somebody says they have the skills, how do you test that? In many cases companies don’t and then get disappointed when the individuals skills don’t match up to the reality of their performance. Let’s face it we’ve all taken someone at their word and then regretted it.

People throw buzz words around, like “high quality” or “If I wouldn’t have it in my house then it’s not good enough.” But what does their house actually look like? Would we be happy visiting their house? It's something we need to clarify before offering them a job. It's not a done deal if we're a little apart in our understanding. It's about can we train them to meet our standards? I used to know a guy who was an electrician. According to reports he was a good one. But his house was a death trap! Now, his argument was that he was too busy fixing other people’s homes to do his own. My point to him was, but you’re willing to electrocute your wife and kids, while saving everyone else’s. If people wanted to see his work then the first place you should take them is to your own premises or home.

So, going back to my question earlier, how will you test their skills? Do you even do that? How do you know their quality matches yours? Have you defined your quality expectations and communicated them to applicants, or like many do you assume that because they are qualified, they already know what that is?

You can save a lot of time, effort and cost by developing a strategic approach to recruitment and training. If you don’t already do that then how can you start? We like to start with the organisation chart that you have now. How is that working for you? Where are the gaps in personnel, experience, attitudes and skills? Who and at what level do you need to recruit and train to fill those gaps?

We’ve also been working with the client I mentioned above who are experiencing a “growth spurt.” What have we done with them? We’ve got them looking at the organisation chart when the growth has reached it’s peak. What roles do they need and at what level will they recruit? What training will they need to provide and how will that be delivered and assessed?

The one thing I’ve learned from working in construction is that many companies take a one dimensional approach to recruitment and training and from there the problems start.

If you’d like to learn more about developing a strategic approach to recruitment and training then why not have a chat with us. It will save you a world of pain.

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