Category Archives: Training

Using The Training Model On Yourself To Be A Better Leader

board-2449726_1280Many of the successful training programs follow this general pattern for building job proficiency:

  • Why Do
  • How Do
  • I Do
  • We Do
  • You Do

While this is a great way to transfer knowledge to others, there seems to be another application in which a leader can use this model.

What if a leader uses this to understand what their employees go through in order to better understand their jobs and roles?

Leaders can sometimes get removed from the nuances of their staff’s job functions, which often results in decisions that negatively impact various employees. If a leader better understood how a certain role functions, and what the challenges are to complete those job tasks regularly, then better team development and decision making would certainly evolve.

Let’s take this model and run it through:

  • Find out why employees do the various steps of the job task. Do they know why, and have a competency beyond “just because”? Also, why do employees do what they do? Is there a reason they don’t perform a certain step such as technical issues, expediency, or failed procedures and systems?
  • When you discover how certain roles perform certain tasks, you can better discover areas of productivity, talent, and skills that lend themselves to that task. Someone may do a process that works great for them, and not outside of procedural norms, that might save time, money, or injury risk. In addition, you may find better ways to train and garner increased efficiency in those areas. Plus, you’ll also be better versed in the ways your employees apply skills, training, and barriers to get their jobs accomplished.
  • This means yourself. Immerse yourself into understanding what your team members contend with on a regular basis. Ask questions and make sure you fully understand to bridge the gap between oversight and competency yourself.
  • If at all possible (and it always is) work alongside your people to see what they do in action. Don a hard hat or smock and see and feel how they do their specific tasks. Have them show you and let them feel good about giving you insight into their world. Spend time with other employees to ensure you know the full scope of what the entire team needs to execute their jobs.
  • Now that you’re fully conversant in your people’s work tasks, it’s totally up to you going forward. It’s incumbent upon you as a leader to make sure any decision (work process, policy change, etc) does not negatively impact the staff. If anything, your knowledge should help steer their jobs to increased engagement, competency and – more importantly – better customer service, as they most likely have higher touchpoints with your customers.

If a leader can use this to understand their teams jobs better, think about the possibilities of using this to investigate employee performance issues, policy compliance, or other concerns within the organization. It prevents rushing to judgement, have others make decisions that can adversely impact team morale and/or performance, and maybe will prevent managing out an employee who has no other input and just needs to have their concerns seen firsthand.

Train yourself to follow the same model you develop your staff in order to be a better leader yourself.

(image: pixaby)

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Why Development Is A Core Focus As A Leader

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If you ask the average person, they may say the focus of leadership to be:

  • Attain results
  • Meet goals
  • Share vision
  • Service customers
  • Get people to perform
  • Create culture
  • Manage daily operations

Leadership is a balance of all the above, but one essential piece that most leaders fall short on is this:

Development of your people in their skills to the highest level they want to attain.

This can manifest in the following ways:

  • Helping them gain mastery of core job functions
  • Developing skills in new areas
  • Strengthen those areas they are already strong in
  • Building desire to grow through increased engagement
  • Casting vision of the organization to help them see what they can accomplish
  • Fostering a desire to lead in varying capacities
  • Placing them in situations they can grow and stretch
  • Increasing their knowledge by giving access to learning resources of all types

Developing your people is key to sustainable growth of the organization. A good culture cannot grow and refresh if it’s people do not grow.  A great strategy can be executed but if your people don’t learn something new the next strategy may not go as well.

At the core of every action, goal, and metric attained in any company is the need to having your people learn as much as they can. This only strengthens the foundation of your organization and builds more connected, committed, and long-term engagement in your workforce.

Purpose daily to develop your people. That is true leadership.

(image: pixaby)

What The Kid Did With His Opportunity

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A leader’s best moments are undoubtedly when their people take the mantle of leadership themselves and successfully apply it.

Like parents and their children, the sense of pride that exudes from seeing someone develop and flourish is probably what attracts most of us to consider leading and influencing others.

One of the most satisfying moments for me was many years ago when a 19-year old boy stepped up and made a tremendous impact. I oversaw the operations for an entertainment/theme park, and one of my foodservice supervisors had to take medical leave for the bulk of the peak summer season.

She oversaw three small but high volume units in the park, and the timing of this news was crucial. She had a very young staff that worked for her, with a few shift leaders, and her absence meant an increased workload for myself.

Normally this would have been a difficult challenge and cause for worry, but hidden in her staff was a gem of a leader that I found out we could call on to hold the fort. If only I could foresee how much of a leader he would turn out to be.

Bonfilio was his name, a quiet kid who was reliable and steady. He always seemed to understand how to make his staff, which was mostly his peer group, motivated to work and overcome obstacles. He was a shift leader who ran a good operation, so we set the stage for him to take the reins. We promoted him to a supervisor role on a temporary basis which allowed him the scope of authority he needed to assume the role left open for a few months.

Bonfilio immediately started to have the operations run smoother and more expedient within a couple of weeks. He made sure that the other shift leaders knew how to train new hires, use their daily task lists, and take care of the customer. Within a month, sales and profits for those locations exceeded prior years.

As he became more efficient, I started to give him duties for scheduling, ordering, and cleaning. He effectively worked those into his routine and delegated some of the tasks to others who he thought could learn and help him out.

Impressed, I started to give him more responsibility. I would give him weekly goals on cleanliness, service times, training, and other operational challenges. We would check weekly, and I would ask him “So how are you coming on A, B, and C?” He would respond, “A, B and C are done, here are the results. And, oh, I also did an D, E, and F for you as well, here’s what became of those.” I was floored by Bonfilio’s initiative, and his ability to take on more while ensuring the operations ran efficiently.

Bonfilio, like many others, needed 2 things in order to exercise his leadership influence:

1) A chance to step up, and 2) The motivation to step up when the chance is presented.

His story gives us solid lessons in how to foster chances and groom people to be ready for those opportunities:

  • Scan The Horizon That Is Your People – Leaders need to take the time to know their players and where they can fill in during various situations. Coaches know how their players react in a given situation, parents know their children’s strengths and weaknesses. Get to know your people, and their talents, intimately.
  • Identify Traits, Not Personalities – Many people have been discounted from leadership roles for reasons based solely on their personality. What may be hardness might be high standards, likewise shyness could be keen observation skills. Be discerning in your assessment of your people.
  • Build Skills & Develop Their Character – Without skills, the job doesn’t get done. Without character, it doesn’t get done right or consistent over the long haul. Their future leadership trajectory will in part be determined by the path you set them on on these two fronts.
  • Give Them A Chance To Lead For Real – Start with a can’t fail situation, then grow from there. Stretch them, push them, but get them out there so they can show their talents. Waiting for the “right moment” may never come, so create it for them.

It was Bonfilio’s vision, talents, and initiative that made an incredible impact that summer. We just merely set the stage; but he had to show up and perform each time the curtain rose up.

That summer the shops that Bonfilio operated set records on sales and margins, as well as customer satisfaction and employee engagement. When his supervisor returned from her leave in the fall, Bonfilio was ready for the next challenge.

He knew of an opening as a supervisor in our largest restaurant, and wanted to take on the challenge of learning a new concept, new skills, and work for the person who later became our executive chef for the park. While a step down from what he just accomplished, he saw even more opportunity to learn and grow as a leader.

Do you know who the Bonfilios of your organization are? Have you given them an opportunity to showcase their talents? They are out there, waiting to make your business better and become dynamic leaders in their own right.

(first posted on Lead Change Group 3/15)

(image: pixaby)

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