Everybody needs training. It is not something to be ashamed of or something to shame. That is just how life goes. In fact, you are really hurting your company without implementing formal training (As I have discussed before). A recent study from the Association for Talent Development (ATD) shows that companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee. Pretty staggering statistic. So that makes it pretty clear that training is not something that should be looked down upon but rather awarded.
The truth is, it does not matter what you are doing even something as mundane as turning on the TV, someone once showed you how to do that task. Most skills are not inherent, they are learned. Sure, you may find that some people have innate skills that make them better at something but they still have to learn. Michael Phelps, for example, is an excellent swimmer and truth be told he probably has the correct body frame and special abilities that made him the swimmer he is today. With that said, he still would have drowned as a child if nobody ever taught him how to swim. Inherent skills are useless without proper training.
When we get into work related tasks the training becomes far more important, comprehensive, and beneficial (as shown by statistic listed above). After all, the success of the employees affect the success of the company. Training sessions can be long in duration and even lasts months at a time. If you have implemented training processes at your company or you work at a company where there are solid training processes then bravo to both of you. Give yourselves a pat on the back, because this is a critical step to the success of your career and your business.
Now to get to the crux of the blog post, Is it a knowing or a doing problem. A few years ago I was approached to work with a manager at a medium sized business in Maine. The manager was directly tied to the sales flow and interacted with customers on a daily basis. After reviewing their sales process it seemed that the process and their training was actually pretty solid. I told this to the owner and he assured me that I must be wrong because the sales numbers were drastically lacking. I decided that I wanted a closer look at the manager so I put on my customer hat and role played with the manager. I could not believe how proficient he was with the material and process that he was taught to perform. Some of the best word and thought track performances I had seen. Perhaps a little shaky, definitely not a natural salesmen but nonetheless should be performing well. This illustrated to me that the issue with this business was not the process or the implementation but rather the personnel.
Allow me to elaborate. When I am asked to come into a company and work with their employees I am always looking to answer one question. This one question is not difficult to answer and is actually quite simple. It can usually be evaluated in as little as ten minutes even if I am unaware of the context or subject for which I am implementing the process. The question, “Is it a knowing or a doing problem?”. This critical step in my process was established from that training consultation just a few short years ago. This is why it is so critically important to follow the ABLE mentality, Always Be Learning – Evolve. We will be having a blog post on this in the coming weeks but I think you can garner the general message.
The manager from my story above demonstrates that the he knows the process but ignores it when with customers. This is the crux of every process implementation. When you are looking to implement change be sure to do so in a manner that allows for sufficient training. If the change is encouraged through constant training but your numbers are lacking, you can rule out the knowing problem. If it is not a knowing problem and the employee is resisting the change then it is a doing problem and you likely have a disgruntled employee on your hands, time for an Intimate Negotiation.
Basically, to break down the two aspects, a knowing problem simply means that the person does not know how to perform the task. Perhaps they were thrown into the job with insufficient training, or filling the shoes for somebody who quit. This is a good problem as it is a fixable problem. Likely, with a knowing problem you will actually have a happier and more productive employee once they have received the training that they so desperately need.
The alternative to this is the doing problem. This means that the person is aware of how to do the task the way it should be performed but chooses to do it differently. This could occur for a few different reasons; upset with a manager, thinks the process you are implementing is stupid or takes longer, or thinks that their way of doing things is ultimately better. This is not the mindset that you want for an employee, they need to get on your bus. These are the employees that we have to worry about, now they may not be gone altogether but it is time for an uncomfortable conversation. I recently posted a blog post on “The Intimate Negotiation” this is what I call the uncomfortable conversations that need to be had in the workplace. This could be between Employer and Employee or vice versa and even among peers. Take a peak if you feel that it may be time to have one of these uncomfortable discussions.
Bottom line is whether you are an employee or a boss be sure to ask this simple question to see what the status is on the job being done. If you are the employee resisting change, ask yourself why. Typically, people far smarter than any of us came up with the process you are being taught.