Training won’t solve an issue with Job Fit

Training won’t solve an issue with Job Fit

The following is a version of a conversation I have regularly with clients:

Client: “We really need some help with our sales process. Some of our bids require hours of preparation and document gathering. Our estimator needed extra help as he uses all his time to get vendor estimates and compute the final price. So he had Mary take over the non-pricing part of the bid.”

Diana: “So how did that work?”

Client: “Well, Mary started well, but the day before the bid she seems frazzled and needed the estimator to help her finish the packet.”

Diana: “So did you win the work?”

Client: “No, the bid was disqualified because it was missing two important documents.”

Diana: “Was there a list of all requirements in the bid package?”

Client: “Yup- right in the first two pages, there was a checklist of every required items.”

Diana: “Okay, we have two areas to concentrate.

First, you might want to talk about process improvement—what could be done better for the next bid. (For example, one person is responsible to double-check everything is there 2 days before the bid is due.)

I would suggest you get those involved in the bid process in a room and outline and clarify the ideal process and timeline, and then assign responsibility.”

The second area- Do you see a trend in Mary’s performance in planning of projects and detail orientation? Is she normally prepared with every item needed, well in advance of a deadline? Does she “future pace” what is coming next, reaching out to others to get what she needs to do her part of the project?

Or do you see the frantic last minute dash to pull something together at the last minute, and then something is usually forgotten?”

This is a function of job fit, some people are comfortable working in the moment, and do not typically focus on the future requirements. Some people have the opposite work habits- they setup checklists, verify that the list is complete and double check everything.

Planning and organizing is a competency—a soft skill that is based on our consistent personality traits, and can be somewhat refined and developed. (And you  can assess for this in the hiring process with a basic personality assessment).

If you step back and evaluate the trend of someone’s work habits, you will likely see a clear pattern of planning and organizing behaviors and results.

If Mary has not demonstrated a strong competency in planning and organizing, the solution is to give those tasks with someone else who has a stronger competency in this area (higher job fit). And then find short term and less detailed and crucial tasks that are a better job fit for Mary (increase her job fit).

Training and systems are most effective if someone already has the competency/ job fit in that area.

Want to learn more?

Find out how 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 and register here: People Plan Webinars

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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).

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Will training help?

Will training help?

We have all worked with an employee (perhaps you know one now) that does not seem to ever “get” a part of the job, or who continues to struggle with something longer than expected.

For example, you show this person how to create a report three times over three months, but in month 4 she asks for help again. Or he normally can handle the tasks you delegate, but every once in a while he seems flustered and avoids finishing those that require advanced planning.

What could be the cause? I don’t know! Part of people coaching is diagnostic—looking at trends and asking questions to uncover the reason behind a performance gap. And that is what you have to do to answer the question “Will training help?”

Three areas where training is less effective:

  • an underlying attitude issue (lack of commitment to job or company)
  • if someone’s personal values / beliefs don’t match organization values
  • lack of job fit (due to personality traits or competency that don’t match up)

If you uncover that the “root cause” of the performance gap is ability, then you have a situation where training can improve performance.

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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

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Resources – Training & Development

This module focuses on how to create action plans and the steps to identify and groom people for advancement within the organization, helping you build a team of skilled and involved employees that do a great job.


Training 6 – Training and Development Action Plans




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.