Helen Giles, Managing Director
The truth of it is that training only enhances employees’ performance where they possess:
· the core competencies (capabilities) that underpin the ability to acquire and apply that skill, and
· the level of cognitive intelligence required to comprehend the skills training being offered
A typical example of the lack of the former is the employee who is in a job requiring a high level of personal organisation skills. They find organising their time and workload incredibly difficult because they are not naturally wired this way. Despite the manager’s endless attempts to advise and support them to manage the workload, they still drop all the balls. Time management training may be worth a try once, but if they still not getting it after that, there’s no point in persisting with a training solution.
For the second scenario, an example would be the organisation that pays towards an employee in a business support function to sit and re-sit time and time again their professional qualification. Even if they do eventually get the piece of paper, they don’t have a high enough level of cognitive function in that discipline to be a high performer in the workplace. Yet the organisation persists in the delusion that once the employee has the piece of paper they will be equipped to do the job well, even when there’s no sign of effectiveness in their day to day work.
When you deal with an employee’s underperformance through the capability (poor performance) route, you are acknowledging that they have a lack of skill. This means that there is an expectation in law that you will provide a reasonable degree of instruction or training to support them to develop that skill and thus achieve the required level of performance. This doesn’t mean you have to go back to absolute basics, but you have to make sure it can’t be argued in court that they didn’t get any training to do the tasks and meet the standards required.
Well targeted training and development gives a fantastic return on investment when directed at staff who have been tested and selected for the necessary core competencies and levels of verbal and/or numerical reasoning ability. It enables them to continuously develop their knowledge and skills to perform their role to ever higher levels of professionalism and then be genuinely promotable within your organisation.
But you can’t develop the wrong raw material. There is nothing more depressing or wasteful of resources than training that is directed at trying to do just that, because the employee is not in the right job in the first place. In such cases, where the employee fails to improve, the only viable choices are to re-train them to do something that is within their level of competency and cognitive ability, or dismissal.