Two Sides to Employee Training Programs

Remember what it’s like to be the new hire on the block?  Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, quiet, and eager to hit the ground running.  A one day orientation, new hire lunch, one week or on the job training, graduation, and it’s off to begin your new role as a one hundred percentage trained and effective employee.

Employee development training and a new hire employee training program is more than signed employee handbook releases and diplomas.  It’s an ongoing process that doesn’t end with the employee and the trainers but continues long after they leave the warm and fuzzy training environment.  Learning and growing is ongoing and requires constant communication and dialogue between all parties.  And by two parties, I mean the manager just as much as the employee.  You see, Employee Development Training new hire or not is a two way street.

Two Sides to Employee Training Programs

Earlier today I got a phone call from the spouse of one my dearest friends from college.  Shawn (the spouse) had been let go after just 90 days with a new company in a IT technical position that was new to him.  He quickly blamed himself and was told the reason for his termination was because he didn’t ask questions.  Apparently, a requirement for in learning the position.  Shawn is a very quiet man.  A recent college grad with an Economics degree; he is a whiz at coding and most things technology.  I’m certain Shawn could whip up a quick iPad or iPhone app without any background or training.  In short, HE IS THAT GOOD.

Quiet and not the kid of guy that ever asks a question (you would know that if you interviewed him), it’s just not his nature or his personality.  Shawn was quick to blame himself because he failed to seek out feedback from his supervisor.  And so he calls me today, asking me questions about the unemployment process, if he qualifies and what it really means.

I, of course put on my HR investigative hat and immediately start asking him about his manager.  ”Did he/she ever talk to you about your performance or how you were doing?”  ”Did they sit you down and go over expectations or provide you with a training checklist?”  “Did they ever talk to you about your peformance?” “Susan (his wife) said you shadowed someone for three days and that was it?”

“No, no, no, and yes,” Shawn says.  He’s still a man of few words.

It takes most new employees six months to twelve months at minimum to understand the rules, roles, and responsibilities of a new position.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an employee’s average is 4.1 years with younger workers expecting a promotion or position advancement every 18 to 24 months.    So what is a manager to do?  It’s called the Law of Effect.  Simply stated “Managers influence employees.”  Managers influence employee behavior in two ways: by what comes before the behavior (the antecedent) and by what comes after it (the consequence).  Antecedents get us going and consequences keep us going.  Shawn didn’t have an antecedent outside of intrinsic rewards like a job and a paycheck to keep the lights on.  Extrinsic rewards are those relationships, the conversations, communications, and the culture that keep employees coming back for more.  Managers typically are quick to blame the employee on lack of performance or productivity without investing the time to influence the employee in a positive way.

Managers can positively skew the Law of Effect by doing small things like cube coachings, monthly development meetings, individual development plans, and Management by Walking Around.  It’s the simple things that provide employees the extrinsic reward and support instilling confidence and comfort.  Which for someone like Shawn is important.

Just like any story there’s two sides and employee development is no different.

Hat tip to Hire Centrix for the Census Bureau data.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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