The speaker announced that it was time for training. First, he put on sunglasses. Then he got up on a chair. Then he pulled his closed
cell phone to his mouth and started putting on a one-man production that many of us didn't quite understand at the beginning.
As he got further into the production you knew that something big was going to happen, but still weren't sure what it had to do with the reason
we were there. It was a compelling scenario; he was going through the process of a conversation between a military air traffic controller and a
helicopter that was coming in for a landing. Just as it was getting close, the helicopter suffered a serious malfunction, and the air traffic c
ontroller went into a process that involved giving the helicopter a place where it could land immediately, clearing all other aircraft from the
area, getting an ambulance and fire truck heading towards the scene, and informing the three upper levels of officials of what was happening.
Then he took a breath and brought his hands up to his eyes like he was looking through binoculars, and announced that the men had been
pulled from the helicopter alive, and all was well.
Then he got down from the chair and took off his sunglasses. He said that scenario happened to him and he remembered it like it was yesterday,
though it was over 35 years ago. He said he knew exactly what to do because of training, training, and more training, first every day for six months,
then continuous training in between actually doing the job. He said that every person who was trained knew the same thing, would have done it
exactly as he had, and in every single instance if that same event had happened those men would have been saved every time. There wouldn't
have been anyone who wouldn't have known what to do because of their intense training; the military prides itself on training.
Most of the rest of the world isn't like that. Companies don't tend to put as much into the training of their employees as those of us who consume
their products or use their services would like. Oh sure, many of them get close, but take a look at your typical fast food chain in America.
There's a lot of practices that are close to the same, but there are a lot that aren't. That's why it seems like sometimes you get a fresh, hot
meal, and other times it seems somewhat stale and cold. That's why sometimes the person taking your order seems awake and alert, and
other times that person seems like they could care less that you're standing in front of them.
I've talked about training in past newsletters, especially new
employees, and I've talked about the need to make sure employees are
prepared for whatever may come their way. Sure, every day isn't a
life or death situation for most of us, but think of how we'd feel if we went into the hospital and the doctors and nurses didn't have the most
current and thorough training possible. Oh wait, many of them don't, because even in hospitals, with budgets the way they are, medical
personnel might get lucky to be granted 8 hours of training a year, and many times that's only to keep up certifications they may need in
order to be allowed to do their jobs.
The lack of training for all employees could kill your business. I remember years ago calling an insurance company three times because I
didn't like the answer I got the first three times, which was different from each of the three people I spoke to. When people tell you something
that you don't quite believe, and then can't tell you where they're getting that answer from, you lose all trust and respect for them, and then you
lose it for the company as well. If your company is the only one that provides that certain service or product in your area, you might feel a bit
more secure, especially with gas prices the way they are today. But if you have even one other competitor, you could be losing business without
really knowing why, as it may not directly be your fault, but indirectly it is.
So, what kind of training should you provide, or can you provide, and how will you provide it? For some things, you could call someone like me
(sure, call!), who can come into your organization. For others, you may have to pay to send your employees elsewhere. Or, for some, you may
have to find the time to buckle down and create your own training program, step by step, so people know what you expect and will do it your way.
After all, how employees do whatever they do is a direct reflection on the leader, whether you're a manager or an owner. Procedure manuals are
nice, and every company should have one, but if no one, including the manager, is following the procedures then it's time to scrap it and try
One thing should definitely be clear. Training is important, and not only for employees who report to you. I'm an independent consultant, but I go
to at least three or four training sessions of some type whenever I'm not on the road. There are some things I don't need to know more about, but
many that I do need to learn if I hope to continue working for myself for a long time to come. Sometimes I go for free, sometimes I have to pay. But
trying to get more training whenever I can get it will be beneficial to me, even if I only pick up one or two nuggets every once in awhile.
On my blog, I posted the six questions
our presenter said every manager and leader should be able to answer "true" to in determining whether their employees need more training or
not. Take a look at them, and if you can't say true to all of them, then your employees need training.
I thank James McEntire of James McEntire Consulting for giving the presentation which led to my writing this newsletter. Too bad he doesn't
have a website; I'm going to have to talk to him about that.