Workplace skill management is a key function for managers and supervisors. Four key actions can help identify and resolve skill-oriented problems. In addition to building performance, these actions also cement the relationship between training programs and the work enviornment.
1. Participating in Training
How should managers and supervisors participate in training? Each organization or type of business is differet, but there are some basic guidelines for involving these key players in training.
Participation in Program Development
The individuals responsible for selecting or developing training curricula should routinely involve managers and supervisors. They can be an extremely valuable part of a peer review group. Supervisors can be extremely valuable in creating realistic scenarios. Don’t limit participation to reviewing documents; keeping them engaged throughout the process helps them develop some ownership of the 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 will tell you that in a workplace, 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). Solving this problem can be as easy as integrating these individuals into the program as skills instructors or other assistant roles. Depending on the training center, consider providing 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.
2. Monitoring Workplace Skill
Measuring transfer of training can be difficult for many training centers. Trainers pass through worksites or areas infrequently, and rarely have the time necessary to observe employees at work. Supervisor and managers, however, operate in this environment daily. Part of their responsibility should be workplace skill monitoring. There are three good indicators of a skills problem:
- A decrease in productivity
- A decrease in the quality of the work being performed
- Changes in employee 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 negative consequences, though. An employee with a sudden increase in production without a change in work quality may have found a process improvement. Supevisors and managers should be comfortable passing those ideas back to the training center for inclusion in future programs.
3. Documenting Performance
The TrainingForce Mobile Web Site allows skill documentation from mobile devices.
Documenting performance can be a challenge for managers and supervisors. Most problems with documenting performence center around the outdated methods used in most business systems. Documentation often meant paper, computer, or internet-based forms that required the supervisor to sit in an office. Taking a supervisor or manager off the floor means taking them away from their primary responsibility.
When it comes to compliance with regulations on programs like hearing conservation or forklift operation,, documentation of training and compliance is extremely important. Documentaton that an employee completed an approved training program is very important. A supervisor observing and documenting the employee working safely 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. For example, TrainingForce allows Managers, Mentors, and Instructors to document skills demonstrations and observations directly from a a mobile web site. Allowing managers and supervisors to document workplace skills without taking them out of the work environment is a growing trend.
More timely documentation of skill performance from supervisors and managers allows training centers to make more informed decisions about training programs. Capturing timely data allows for a detailed workplace skills analysis. How has a single employee performed at a single skill before and after training? How has the employee performed in multiple skill areas over time? How have multiple employees at different locations performed with the same skill? These can make training needs assessments much more accurate. Documentation can also be the source of information for the indicators outlined in monitoring peformance; documentation can uncover trends that might otherwise be missed.
4. Providing Remediation and Coaching
Managers and supervisors can’t stop at monitoring and documenting performance. Remember your high school athletic coaches? Coaches are equal parts motivator, teacher, and evaluator. Front-line managers and supervisors should share those same characteristics. When problems with workplace skills 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 teach them again in the workplace.
Managers should constantly be evaluating performance of team members, and just like a coach – don’t be afraid to shuffle the lineup if necessary. When an issue is identified, the teacher role takes over. Providing constructive feedback that corresponds directly to training programs is a major responsibility. Finally, a manager or supervisor should always be finding ways to motivate team members.
Another strong point of mobile technology is the ability to document coaching and remediation actions by the supervisor in a less threatening way. No employee likes to see a paper evaluation showing formal remedial activity. Using mobile technology this way helps document coaching as a less-formal act. Improved documentation helps capture the supervisor’s activity as well.
Workplace Skill: Closing Thoughts
Today’s training centers and business entities benefit from having managers and supervisors engaged in workplace skills training. Being able to identify when performance changes and take action on the causes helps ensure business goals are met. When a supervisor identifies those drops, he or she can’t wait on the training department to schedule a class. The supervisor is an extension of the training department, so when performance falls — teach, then teach again.
Mager, R.F., Morphing into a … 21st Century Trainer, Training. June 1996.