Many training managers ask the question “How do I overcome a manager or supervisor that just doesn’t care about training?” These managers draw a distinct line between the “business side” and training. This is a shame, because managers and supervisors are a critical link in a worker’s ability to put information from training into practice on the job.
You’ve got four tools to help overcome this viewpoint and improve transfer of training. You need these individuals to build a stronger relationship between training programs and the work environment.
How should managers and supervisors participate in training? Each organization or type of business is different, but there are ways to involve these individuals in training.
Participation in Program Development
The individuals responsible for selecting or developing training curricula should routinely involve managers and supervisors. Managers can be strong contributors to peer review groups, especially when there is a need to create realistic scenarios. Don’t limit participation to reviewing documents. Keeping managers engaged throughout the process builds feelings of ownership of both the process and material. Involvement in the development process can also prepare them to assist in teaching the content initially and monitoring skill performance on a daily basis.
Utilization as Instructors
Many instructors agree that in a workplace class, students who have extensive experience or authority can be a significant distraction during training. Managers and supervisors often have gross misconceptions about training, such as “anybody can be a trainer” or “the training department is a place to put poor performers”. (Mager, 1996).
Combat this misconception by changing their role in the classroom from student to instructor. Integrate these individuals into the training program as skill instructors or other assistant roles. Provide a basic training or coaching workshop for managers and supervisors. When teaching a workplace skill, a manager or supervisor can provide great insight to students.
Monitoring Workplace Skill
Measuring how well a student transfers training from the classroom to the job can be difficult. Trainers pass through worksites or areas infrequently and rarely have the time necessary to observe employees on the job. Supervisor and managers operate in this environment daily. Part of a supervisor or manager’s responsibility should be workplace skill monitoring. Things to look for:
- A decrease in productivity
- A decrease in the quality of the work being performed
- Changes in work habits, such as safety violations or attendance problems
Any of these indicators can be identified by a well-trained manager or supervisor. Not all monitoring has to be for negative behaviors or change. Supervisor should be equally aware for positive changes. An employee with a sudden increase in production without a change in work quality may have found a process improvement. Supervisors and managers are instrumental in passing those ideas back to the training center for inclusion in future programs.
Another element that frustrates managers and supervisors is paperwork. Training managers want feedback on how an employee performs at work. Feedback is typically associated with documentation. Documentation often means paper, computer, or internet-based forms that require the supervisor to sit in an office.
These methods of documenting performance are impractical, even for the training manager. Feedback is rarely accurate or timely. Taking supervisors or managers away from the work area mean being away from their primary responsibility; production, safety, and quality can all be affected.
When it comes to compliance with regulations on programs like hearing conservation or forklift operation, performance documentation is extremely important. A supervisor observing and documenting the employee working safely at a specific point in time demonstrates more than training – it demonstrates a culture of safety.
Mobile technologies such as the smart phone and tablet computer are changing the way performance is documented. Allowing managers and supervisors to document workplace skills without taking them out of the work environment is a growing trend. Documenting performance into a learning management system using mobile technology is less threatening to workers than formal evaluations or formal remediation.
Timely documentation of employee performance from supervisors and managers allows training managers to make informed decisions about training. Capturing timely data allows for a detailed workplace skills analysis. A supervisor’s documentation can uncover trends important to training that might otherwise be missed.
Providing Remediation and Coaching
Further involve supervisors by encouraging them to provide remediation and coaching on the job. Supervisors and managers are equal parts motivator, teacher, and evaluator. When problems are identified, remediation can be provided on the spot as long as the managers and supervisors are fully invested in the training center’s programs. Teach students formally then give managers latitude to reinforce training on the job.
Providing employees constructive feedback that corresponds directly to training programs is a manager or supervisor responsibility.
You’ll benefit from having managers and supervisors engaged as part of the training center. They become a primary source of feedback for the training center, and can be training’s strongest advocate.
For more relevant training information, check out Training You: Managing the Corporate Training Function.