Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The connection between behavior and rewards is simple, if you're talking about Santa. You behave, you get toys. You misbehave? You can look forward to a stocking full of coal. Nasty.
The really cool thing about that plan is that it is clear and up front. No mysterious stockings full of coal because some bean counter said there where too many good children. The terms are clear...clean your room, help out mom and dad around the house, brush your teeth, and you're pretty much guaranteed that old Saint Nick won't leave you lumps of fossil fuel instead of a candy cane and toys.
Wouldn't it be great if corporate training worked that way? Or heck, corporate life in general.
You come into work every day, you work hard. You do your reports and track your products. So when training opportunities come around, you can pretty much count on a sweet opportunity to learn something new, improve your skills, maybe get set for a promotion when a position opens up.
Sorry. The reality is far from the Santa-based system. We treat employee training like some secret formula we need to protect from the masses.
First, we limit the number of people who hear about the training being offered. It becomes something more like an invitation to a secret society than a chance to create a better educated workforce.
Then, we have an approval process for people who "heard" about the training and want to go. We screen them to make sure we only allow in those who already have jobs related to the training. The idea that others in the organization might benefit from diverse training is about as accepted as the idea of little green men -- we all know about the stories, but no one in their right mind would admit to believing them.
Finally, we make it hard to people to attend the training. In many organizations, salaried employees attending training are expected to do their normal job on their own time, outside of the training time. Now there's a big incentive, right?
There are literally millions of pages of research showing that a better trained and cross trained workforce is more productive, more committed and more successful. And yet, and yet...the stocking full of coal continue.
Can we take a page from Santa in 2010? If your employees are on the nice list, make training one of their rewards? At the very least, it beats vacuuming up all that coal dust.