Category Archives: Mentorship
If you think of a manure-laden farm, the picture you derive is probably unpleasant. The sight of dirty brown fields may be bad enough, but the awful odor that emanates will linger with you for quite some time.
Yet farmers put up with the gross and smelly substance because of the benefits it provides. However there are good and bad manures, and the wisest farmers know that bad manure can be toxic and harmful to plants, animals, and people associated with the farm.
As leaders, we need to discern the difference between good and bad manure. Manure in it’s very nature is waste, cast-off, an unpleasant by-product. Yet in it’s purest form, good manure is rich and will allow people to grow and flourish in a very healthy way.
Some examples of bad manure in your organization may be:
- Unchecked negativity and toxic behavior
- Unrealistic goals and timeframes
- Restricted resources that prevent tasks from being accomplished
- Deliberate sabotage to prove power or advance agendas
- Politics that derail the missions
- Behaviors and procedures that are not congruent to the core values
As stated above, good manure can be healthy and allow people to thrive and blossom in ways that cannot be done without it. Think for a moment on these issues and what good benefits can be derived:
- Ripple effects from toxic team or leadership leaving (pruning)
- Goals that stretch people beyond what they perceive as their limits (growing)
- Limited resources (due to financial or procurement constraints) that challenge people to be creative and innovative (moderating)
- Threat of competition and loss of business and/or market share (urgency)
- Company expansion that brings in new staff and fosters internal competition (flourishing)
- Openness of budget challenges that allow staff to find new ways to generate revenue and contain costs (sharing)
As leaders we need to do everything we can to not hamper progress and growth in our people and organization. But we cannot keep them in an incubator free from any harm or disease – the reality of the world does not afford that. By managing the type of fertilizer that is spread across our teams, we can foster a rich and healthier growth in our people.
A recent workplace training study over the last year resulted in an astonishing fact:
Between 79-80% or workplaces spent less than $1000 in training on their employees
That’s a staggering amount and even more when you break it down further:
- Given a median hourly rate of $22, this equates to 45 hours of training
- 45 hours is just barley the first week of work for a full-time employee
- This is an annual figure, meaning onboarded staff from prior years barely get 1 hour of training and development a week
- Weekly, the average employee gets less than $20 of training spent on them to develop skills or increase productivity
It’s no wonder that lack of adequate training, development of skills, and creation of new challenges are a consistent metric that appears in most every survey of why employees leave.
Leaders and organizations can do better than this. So as to get our mental acuity focused into the realm of increasing training competency, here is a checklist of items you’ll want to consider in making your training programs effective to better develop your staff and organization.
- Onboarding with Clear Expectations.
- Onboarding with a Mentor, Big Sister/Brother
- Mini-boot camp (or training camp) training (any title will do)
- Yearly skills calibration
- Micro-learning accessibility
- Tailor training methods to meet employees needs, not company’s (or the trainer’s)
- Thread Culture, Values, Vision through every fabric of training (yes, the finance team too!!)
- Subject ALL staff, from hourly to C-level – to the exact same training modules and sessions
- Mix up remote digital training with in-person small groups
- Find each person’s needs and match to a training plan
- Train every day (athletes and orchestras do it!)
- Make training a bigger budget line item – it does ensure a solid ROI if done right
- Leadership must by in
- Training must be a culture, not a counter-culture
- Always work to improve content, engagement, and relevancy
- Ask trainees for feedback personally, not through a survey
- If you do ask for feedback through a survey (because some of you will), leave open ended comment boxes so employees aren’t penned into a few irrelevant answers that don’t allow them honest feedback
- Infuse fun and creativity
- Encourage training credit in extra-curricular training that augments and dovetails into the work (thru Lynda.com, local colleges, online sessions, etc)
- Reinforce continually to keep skills sharp throughout their career
- Have a monthly training focus throughout the entire organization to rally around a core value (customer service, safety, communication, integrity, etc)
- Combine learning styles for maximum impact and reach
- Include your hourly staff in teaching to build there skills and grow future teachers, trainers, subject matter experts, leaders
- Don’t make it boring – mix it up with breaks, change seat locations, content structure to avoid boredom and increase retention
These are just a few of the many ways great companies get proper training done. It’s easy – if you’re willing to make it happen. And it reaps benefits – if you execute it correctly.
If you have other methods of training that you’d like to include, please list them below!!
For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Jeffrey A. Fox is a management and executive consultant, and a great leadership author. I enjoy reading his books for a number of reasons, some of which are because he succinctly gets to the core point of what he’s saying. Each chapter is a precious nugget of richness, solid in truth and invaluable to those yearning to grow.
While not his latest book, “How To Be A Great Boss” is a read that I have thoroughly enjoyed every page of the way. One of the chapters hits the nail on the head about where your time should be spent among your people. It’s entitled “Spend 90% of Your Time With Your Best People”.
It seems that so much of leaders’ time that they spend on their staff is consumed with the so-called “high maintenance” employees. They are the ones that literally cost the company precious time and money due to their lack of performance, disruptive behavior, or both. A few years back I reported to a C-level executive who confided in me that 80% of their time was lost constantly on 20% of their “problem children”. While they didn’t know how to swing that around (and couldn’t see how they themselves had created this culture that they were drowning in), I used my personal experience to shed some light and help them understand what Jeffrey Fox layed out for the rest of us.
Years ago I knew a manager who was charged with creating a new department for an entertainment company. This department was an offshoot of an existing one, yet it was to run co-dependently at first then become self-sufficient within 60 days. It was an on-the-fly task that was literally dumped on him; part of his benefit package for being promoted.
The staff that he and his supervisory team were given were the employees that none of the other supervisors wanted to invest time in. They were deemed “unproductive” and by jettisoning them to this new area, they were relieved of any further obligation to work with these employees. So this manager had a staff of about 50 untrained and unmotivated employees to start a department with.
He immediately started to recognize three types of employees: those that worked hard no matter what, those that worked well but not always consistent, and those that were never motivated and failed to do the job at all. Unconsciously, he started investing the bulk of his time with the hard workers, as he needed them to anchor the day to day tasks. He then spend most of the rest of his time with the second group, realizing that they had potential but were never properly trained or shown they had value. He did spend time with the unmotivated group, mostly in corrective action, but never let them consume his valuable time.
Well, a peculiar trend started to happen in this manager’s new department. He noticed that the hard workers dug in and worked harder, and set a great attitude and pace for the entire team. He then saw that the middle group felt needed because they were given attention finally, and, seeing the first group energized, started to perform on a pace close to the hard workers. But what the manager saw in the unmotivated group literally shocked him. He noted that many of these workers, previously deemed problematic, started to perk up and step up their game. Their attitude and performance improved remarkably. When asked, they generally said that they had never been a part of such a team before, and didn’t want to be left out, or left behind. Granted, there were a few dissenters that needed to be groomed out, but the vast majority clicked with the team dynamic and their first year brought incredible sales success and profitability that they did not forecast they would attain for at least 3 years.
By focusing on your 90%, Fox states, you invest in the biggest return in your company. If you invested in those underperforming stocks, you would most certainly look for better returns in higher potential stocks. Why should it be any different with your staff? Invest where it counts, and you’ll be surprised at the results. And so will your team.