Was she really “trained?”

Was she really “trained?”

When we have an employee who seems to be struggling with part of the job, we think back and exclaim “but she was trained!”

Often a person has been “trained” but still does not adequately complete the job duties.

There are multiple reasons “training” doesn’t succeed:

  • It was not comprehensive enough- just covering the basics does not convey enough information
  • It was given too fast in too short a period of time (everyone learns at a different rate)
  • The trainer only demonstrated the skill, and did not have the trainee practice it twice with coaching
  • Training did not match the learner’s best learning method (Some people learn better by listening, some via doing it, some by reading)
  • The trainer did not have adequate knowledge or verbal skills to impart all informa tion (if someone knows 70% then they train 70% of that and trainee gets 49% of it.

The basic solution is to re-visit the skill or knowledge that needs to be taught, and to systematically review this information.

Seasoned trainers also regularly check to make sure the trainee is absorbing the information, by asking for some sort of demonstration of learning. (“Okay, now I would like you to show me how you would enter a new order.”)

Once you have verified that the person was adequately trained or re-trained, you need to keep the knowledge active. Give the person the opportunity to use it periodically and coach for improvement.

If you don’t see improvement over time then you have your answer “will training help?” – and look for other causes (usually job fit related).

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

10 Reasons Why Employees Don’t Do the Job – Part 1

10 Reasons Why Employees Don’t Do the Job – Part 1

Determining the cause of a performance issue can be like being a detective– here is a list of 10 major reasons employees “don’t do the job” with possible solutions.

Source: Expectations

1. They don’t know what to do
2. They think they are doing it
Solution: I read many job descriptions—hundreds per year from dozens of organizations—rarely do they clarify for me the specific job activities and key results areas, much less how the job will be measured. It is difficult to hold someone accountable to results when the manager has not made it crystal clear what those results should be and what s/he has to do to get those results. Otherwise employees just take their best guess and do what seems to be the most urgent.

3. They think something else is more important
Solution: A great survey report showed that employees only agree with managers on 1 out of 3 priorities! Frequent coaching and follow up makes sure that what a person is working on is the highest priority for the job and department. An employee does the best she can reading the tea leaves to guess what her manager thinks is priority. Don’t make them guess… also, remember employees often don’t have the broader view or much information outside of their own activities (and yes, the more they do the better decisions they will make.)

Source: Training

4. They don’t know how to do it
Solution: Work with employee to identify skill or competency to enhance with training, create a training plan with a timeline and hold employee accountable to stick to the plan (even if it means reminding her manager to schedule the time or resources).

5. They are uncomfortable doing it
Solution: Sometimes a little training can increase someone’s confidence and they become “comfortable” with the task and then perform it regularly. More likely this is a symptom of job fit—someone’s personality traits or competencies are not aligned with those required to excel in the job. A classic example is “asking for the sale”— a person who is cooperative (lower assertive) can be trained for years on sales techniques and given scripts, but he is always uncomfortable closing. For job fit, the remedy is to change the job duties to ones that correspond with the person’s strengths and attributes.

Source: Feedback/ Recognition

6. They can do it but don’t want to
7. They are rewarded for not doing it
8. They are not rewarded when they do it

Solution: This is fundamental psychology. People do what is measured and recognized and rewarded. If they are not rewarded (or worse, “punished”) for doing something, most people stop doing it. Sales people don’t like to do paperwork—but they also don’t want to be reminded that they were late 9 of the last 10 weeks—this is powerful feedback.

Often the signals sent by managers are unintended. Do you reward your poor performers by giving extra work to others that you can depend on? Do you remember to praise and even publicly recognize the team that worked last weekend to finish up a project?

For ideas on how to recognize the Right Things, read blog post “Quick Recognition Template”

Source: Belief

9. They don’t know why they should do it

Solution: Some people will blindly follow rules, but most want to know the “why” behind something that they are asked to do. It they believe a task or process is x (insert label here: low importance, arbitrary, a waste of time, or just plain stupid), no amount of training will effect a change in behavior. You might get begrudging compliance but that is about it. To get commitment, you have to explain the “why” to change the belief. (Until they believe his IS important, worth my time, etc.)

10. They think their way is better.

Solution: Read the solution above… plus this often happens when you ask someone who is good/ comfortable with the “old way” and now you have a “new way.” And in the beginning, the old way is better since an employee is more comfortable and competent in the old way. A big part of culture change and process change is to overcome the belief that the old way is better.

A key personality trait is openness to new experiences and some people are not. They will cling to the things they know how to do. As a manager you will need to support and coach these employees through the pain and fear that comes with change. Recognize that this is more deep seeded than just a training issue, but a consistent personality trait or a cognitive filter (belief) and be patient and supportive, and work through changing the belief, not just behavior.

As a client’s manager once stated, “if we have 100 people then we have 100 different personalities.” It’s your job as a manager to figure out what is the cause and the solution that works for all the unique individuals on your team.


If your whole crew fell in, who would you save?

If your whole crew fell in, who would you save?

I remember a vivid scene from the movie “Master and Commander” when the captain (Russell Crowe) decided to leave a sailor overboard, instead of saving the crew member but endangering the whole ship. <PS A great movie about leadership, and reminded me of the Hornblower series I read as a nerdy kid.>

Luckily our business is not life or death, and this is a tough decision that you will not have to make.

However, when you choose to keep onboard the crew members who are “dragging down” the team, you are essentially slowing or sinking your ship.

So consider—if everyone fell overboard, who would you “save” and why? (This is sometimes call the lifeboat drill.)

Now you have two lists—one to save (your best performers and solid citizens) and your list of the ones you would leave behind.

Before I get irate comments—let me be clear I am not advocating “throwing someone overboard” as a solution.

What I am suggesting is that you take each person that was on the “leave behind” list and do four important things:

  1. Systematically and objectively identify this person’s strengths and improvement areas
  2. Consider how the strengths can be re-deployed into another set of tasks or role
  3. Create a list of crucial and immediate changes required
  4. Meet with this employee to discuss 1-3 and create a plan to bring this person back on the crew list

Almost all of your low performance employees can be improved with a combination of change in role and expectations.

You can learn more about how to identify the three main reasons someone isn’t keeping up (gap in ability, motivation or values) in our webinar “Evaluating Your Current Team for Job Fit.”

See our current webinar schedule here: People Plan Webinars

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Resources – Evaluating & Coaching Your Team

In this module you will compare an employee’s performance with the job expectations, and consider performance strengths and gaps.


Training 3 – Evaluate Your Team for Job Fit

In this video you will learn:

  • How to gather information about an employee’s talents and traits.
  • An easy system to identify areas of Job Fit and causes of performance gaps.
  • 10 reasons employees aren’t doing their job — and a solution for each.
  • A specific process to determine if training is a solution.

Training 4 – Coaching Your Team for Top Performance

In this video you will learn:

  • What is expected in the role of a “modern” manager.
  • Should you be a “jerk” or be “nice? Why neither is an effective style and what to do instead.
  • 9 benefits of coaching and performance discussions—for managers and staff.
  • Role and when to use the 3 major types of feedback


Articles/ resources


To your People success,

-Diana Southall, People Coach and creator of the People Plan™


If you are ready to create your own People Plan, learn more about our Toolkit resources.

How does a Small(er) Employer Attract Generation Y?

How does a Small(er) Employer Attract Generation Y?

Meet your newest employee pool: Generation Y (or the millennial generation, born 1981-2000). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are already about 24% of the working population this year.

This month about 1.7 million students will graduate college (most born about 1990). These potential candidates have vastly different impressions of work and reward than their older co-workers (Generation X, Baby Boomers).

According to a study by Sam Houston State University— our youngest team members want “fun, feedback, recognition, open mindedness, and advanced technology” from an employer culture.

Total Rewards expert Towers Watson “2011 Talent Management and Rewards Survey” found that Gen Y-ers looked first for career advancement opportunities, as well as being interested in competitive pay and learning and development (closely related to advancement). These are not a surprising list for anyone beginning their career—they want to learn how to apply the theories learned and develop their knowledge and earning potential.

Unfortunately for you, smaller employer, these are not the rewards that you are known for. Smaller enterprises often pay a bit less than the large companies in their area, lack “formal” career paths, and also tend to be extremely informal about training and development (just in time training might be a flattering description).

The good news is that since this is the worst job market for college graduates in 20 years, you can develop a convincing Employer Brand to position your small firm as a terrific option for this bumper crop of candidates.

Here is a list of questions you can use to differential what you offer, to attract these candidates:

  1. What is fun about this job? What is challenging about the work?
  2. How do you describe the People side of your firm—the co-workers, the supervisor, the clients
  3. What can someone learn in this job? How will this make them more marketable?
  4. What technology do you have that makes the job easier, cooler, or just less hassles than other similar jobs?
  5. What autonomy or independence do you give your employees? How about a flexible schedule?
  6. What does your firm do to help people or do something worthwhile or beneficial to the community?
  7. Find out what similar employers pay for a similar job, and then offer pay about the same (and communicate why this is competitive)
  8. Bonus—Gen Y’ers are looking for a position on the web and via social media—what can you do to promote your position and also make it easy for candidates to apply?

Engagement Recruiting Generation Y


Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net