My wife presented me with a very interesting quote today that she just knew that I would love. This is due to ideals that I am always speaking on when we have one of our random "educational" discussions (yes...we do that). The quote is this...
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
- Albert Einstein
How genius is that?!
It is an indictment on how we publicly educate. Using the same mold and trying our best to stuff uniquely gifted children into it versus discovering where their genius lies and teaching to it. Granted, we have to educate some generally accepted standards, but we should incorporate ways to bring out a child's gift and area of ability.
The same applies to adult learners in the workplace. We typically stuff people into a box of either being auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. We say, "you HAVE to be one of these". The truth is, most of us represent a blend of these generally accepted learning methods. This is why training is most effective when we incorporate all three methods into our learning activities. It increases the likelihood for retention, understanding, and more effective knowledge transfer. We don't "tell the FISH to climb a tree", as it were. You give the fish water and tell it to swim, and give the tree to the monkey and tell it to climb. Each gifted in their own way...like people!
We all are familiar with the famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein that speaks to the perceived "definition of insanity". That quote states that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". It's quite humorous to think about, but in reality, how many times do we run afoul of that wise statement? How many times have you seen a company's answer to a mistake manifest itself as "retraining". Retrain, retrain, retrain! The problem is...the mistakes don't seem to go away. One thing is for certain though, each time the mistake is made, we retrain.
Does Albert Einstein's famous quote come to mind here? What we end up doing to our training efforts with the "retrain, retrain. retrain" mindset is we weaken it significantly. This is because training becomes viewed as, and associated with punishment in the minds of our workforce because the company only insists on training when something wrong has occurred. We want our workforce to look at training as a privilege or a positive. We want training to come across as, "the company is investing in me" versus "I'm in trouble".
We can help avoid the "retrain" cycle by offering rigorous levels of development for the workforce to progress through. These levels of development should be created by the subject matter experts of the operation along with area owners, and training staff. The levels should reflect realistic expectations of an individual within a certain time span of employment. Gates to higher levels can be reflected in the form of check-off lists, job observations, verbal questioning, and written assessments. The latter two (verbal questioning and written assessments) should only be used in conjunction with either the check-off lists or observation. This is due to the fact that there are many who can say what they should be doing, but, cannot put it into action.
The level gateways can be incentivized financially or with status and expanded responsibility. The aim is to create a sense of pride and achievement. If installed CORRECTLY, this development structure should help decrease mistakes that would normally activate the "retrain, retrain, retrain" philosophy. Use true structural employee development in your organization. Retraining at the point of a mistake typically won't get to the root cause of why an action was taken and the fear of punishment can serve as a block to material absorption.
I was speaking to a friend earlier today who works for a local organization known for the excellent financial compensation of its employees. This company was the face of excellence in its product category. Competitors always following them. Never the other way around. They were quite an operation.
The funny thing is, we were speaking about the way they were. What happened? Well, as with more than a few companies, sometimes success can breed complacency. Competitors catch up, we make some operational mistakes, we lose market share, and before you know it you're faced with having to make some tough decisions. You focus more and more on driving for operational perfection. You drive harder and harder, but get nowhere. You do everything except enact ways to maintain the culture. When the culture erodes from tough times in a company, you find quickly that money is not a sure bet way to hold your best talent or keep the happiness of those who stay.
Michael Rogers, a dynamic speaker on change for business and other business topics, points out 3 things employees need that begin with "R"...
These things must not decline, especially in times when more may be being asked of employees. These are things that denote that you care and appreciate your workforce. Care and appreciation, you'll find, are higher incentives to stay with a company and to work harder when called upon, than monetary incentive.
Leaders have to do so much more than simply remind employees they are fortunate to have a job. They have to do more than ensure they have just the basics to get along and work with. If we want higher productivity, loyalty and happy staff – we have to go the extra mile. The 3 R’s can help.
The company I mentioned at the outset has yet to apply these principles. The morale continues down a bad path. Here's hoping that this once great organization finds its way and recognizes how important culture maintenance is before it's too late.
Another quick video lesson from Success Strategy Training!
The goal of any training system worth its salt is to achieve change for improvement in their organization. What is the best way to achieve that?
Let's look at what we see in a lot of systems. Some training systems have very slim portfolios and rely on a lot of CBT (computer based training) courses, while others have very extensive portfolios and train on everything under the sun. They can remind you of a small college with the amount of training they put on. The thing is, the one with many courses can be just as, if not, more ineffective than the one with the few. Why?
The name of the game is strategic alignment. It's a must that any training offered is aligned with an organization's goals and objectives. Once the goals and objectives of an organization are understood, an accurate diagnosis can be made according to the needs of the desired populace. Once a proper diagnosis is made, training can be tailored and constructed to meet the stated objectives. Along the way, strategic placement of evaluation techniques can ensure the transfer of knowledge to the intended audience.
A tried and true method for measuring knowledge transfer is the Kirkpatrick Four-Level Evaluation model. Click to learn more... Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model.
Strategic alignment can be achieved by getting all effected stakeholders and senior managers on board with the direction of the company. When this is understood, only then can the curriculum for effective training geared to "move the needle" be constructed and evaluated.
Getting strategic alignment, plus proper diagnosis, along with the application of effective evaluation techniques, can result in the construction of a training system that can create true progression in any organization.
Keenan McBride, CPTM