You’re a professional wanting the best from your team. Does training deliver? Earlier in my career, when I was working for corporates people often complained of “being sheep dipped”. A desire to upskill staff meant they were sent on a course, with the expectation that everything would be “fixed” afterwards.
Did you suffer the sheep dip in your early career?
Thinking about the type of training you give people and most importantly your role in the process is key to your success, and that of the people you want trained.
Attitude is key to improved performance.
Once I asked a sales manager why he was sending his sales team for sales training. The answer was to teach them to sell as they weren’t performing. Interestingly the majority of them had been on several sales courses before and still weren’t performing. I asked why they weren’t performing; his answer was essentially about attitude, not skills.
In this age of instant results and computer software it is easy to forget that a change in attitude is not like a software upgrade. The real issue above lay in finding out what prevented them from selling and dealing with it, not just sending them on another course.
Three motivation steps.
When you think about attitude, think about motivation to do things differently. Your staff may be capable to doing what you want, just not motivated to. The psychologist Vroom, suggested that there are three points which are needed for motivation.
- Expectancy: “If I tried, would I able to perform the task?” Knowledge and skills obviously have a place here; training can help with these two points. A third subtle point is the persons belief in their skills, how will you change that?
- Instrumentality: “Would performing the task lead to measureable outcomes?” This could also be expressed as “is changing the way I work going to make a difference that can be seen”. If somebody does not believe that their new behaviour will be noticed, why would they do it? This one is down to you as the manager, do you change your behaviour after somebody is trained/ expected to do something different? Depending on the issue that can be anything from simply giving feedback, to changing the way you work as well.
- Valence: “How much do I value the outcomes?” Values are always difficult, in one sense this could be as simple as “I’ll change what I do, and you’ll pay me a bonus – but I’m not interested in the value of the bonus!” Thinking about the earlier sales team example, this is again getting at why they are not doing something that they are capable of doing. This is much more about one to one discussions than “sheep-dipping”.
The sheep dip approach does not connect with individuals, they need to create their own desire to change. The individual needs to know she has an opportunity to implement what is being learned as well as wanting to and knowing how to.
When thinking about a course, ask questions to understand the detail. How measurable are the outcomes, can you see positive changes in behaviour and thinking? That’s not the same as being excited the day after, but actually changing behaviour.
Training that results in no change is a waste of time.
Most importantly realise that the three conditions need to be met and that you have a role to play. If not, it will simply be an ongoing sheep dip.
How can you help your team to create their own desire to change?