Monday, November 24, 2014

The Sea To Survival

The elephant in the room of household staffs everywhere is actually, in fact, a little baby sea turtle. Will our tide pool be able to save her?

How can we help her to survive?

"If you were a brand-new baby sea turtle, your odds for survival would be grim: of thousands hatched, only a dozen or so make it to adulthood… 

Investments in workplace learning are meant to give birth to new capabilities that employees can use to improve job performance. Odds are better here than for sea turtles, but not by a huge amount…15% to 20% of trainees who participate in the typical workplace learning event will employ their new capabilities in a way that leads to worthwhile results for the organization. - Tim Mooney, Courageous Training: Bold Actions for Business Results 

The first course I recall taking at U.C. Berkeley and has remained foundational ever since, was the critical importance of conducting a thorough needs assessment of any performance deficiency prior to prescribing solutions. The time-honored practice of putting analysis first ~ honestly and accurately understanding the gap between what is and what should be ~ is both simple and complex, in that anyone versed in organizational development knows it should be done and how to do it ~ yet factors within organizations which prevent its execution are sometimes so prevalent and so powerful that many people, estate managers included, often must look the other way and proceed down the path of least resistance, i.e., first throw some training at the staff ~ and then just hope something goes right.  

However, first understanding not only the gap, yet if it's a of lack of skill or a lack of will, fine tunes the options and helps estate management understand that time is indeed money ~ and wasting either on a course of action designed to cure other ailments is not in the best interest of anyone, most namely, the estate owners. Beyond this, though, some complexity enters with ensuring that use of the knowledge itself, not simply "training," will survive its return to sea, having the support of senior management and aligned with the already established and written team mission, vision, and values. 

Rounding out the actual, usable value of this newly acquired knowledge is keeping close tabs on how and when the knowledge has been applied, not simply survived - during the monthly performance reviews of each individual team member, in addition to support for the total performance management needed within the larger organization. This final point is where Mooney's book really hits the beachhead and gives the best hope for our "baby sea turtles" ultimate prosperity. Long after the excitement and colorful brochure of a training day has been tossed, what then remains is the hard work which actually produces the results.

"The real key to turning training into impact is not in giving trainees another dose of the learning content or reminders to use it, but in ensuring that the barriers to applying learning on the job are removed or reduced. Meeting this challenge requires substantive
Substantive work is in the foreground.
work with and contributions from the managers of trainees and very often from the senior managers. We find that few training professionals have the access, commitment, and tenacity to stick with this work. Isn’t it easier and more within our control simply to polish up the training and make it even shinier, than to confront line managers about their role in supporting performance improvement?"

Far from being the easy fix we often wish training could be (and some trainers will promise), our commitment to real performance management is always the overarching goal - and more valuable to the principals than the easy sell of afternoon seminars. Removing the barriers Mooney spoke of turns out to be, in Citizen Editor's humble opinion, the active, participatory hands-on daily management and care of your domestic team's performance, along with measuring each workers' ability to take part with their agreed-upon responsibilities.

Good to have some around.

Mooney's book and concept rolls up the sleeves for those stakeholders who have the moxie to move their staff beyond a sea of survival, to both quality training
and their team's long-term actual success, as measured against the real needs of the principals' estate operation: daily performance results.  

It's no secret that developing a real team requires real work - and this includes holding everyone on the team accountable, not simply those in management roles. With resources such as this to inspire estate managers who are responsible for strengthening the training relationship and developing real service standards to meet performance expectations, the rewards of their labor will see your domestic team not simply returning to sea and surviving against the worst chances, yet instead, returning to work and swimming with the best odds.