If employee performance has begun to sag, you might naturally turn to staff training. But before you clear the calendars for a training day, take a close look at what’s going on. Expensive training may not be the best solution.
Here are few other issues that could be causing performance problems:
Micromanagement stifles employee performance.
Sometimes managers feel pressure to make sure everything their team does meets an exacting standard. In an effort to maintain those standards, they may become micromanagers.
This often happens in demanding, high-stress jobs, especially if managers themselves are held to unreasonable standards without support from their superiors. The problem often develops out of an earnest desire to produce great work.
Don’t assume your company is immune. Micromanagement is very common.
A survey conducted by Trinity Solutions and published in author Harry Chambers’ book My Way or the Highway showed that 79% of respondents had experienced micromanagement. 71% said being micromanaged interfered with their job performance while 85% said their morale was negatively impacted.
Micromanagement decreases productivity and increases employee turnover.
If employees are told exactly how to do every little thing, they’ll lose the confidence to do anything on their own initiative, knowing any decision will be overturned later on.
Because no team members have the authority to make decisions, the micromanager becomes a bottleneck, damaging customer experience and decreasing overall performance despite the manager’s extreme efforts.
Most micromanagers end up leaving after a short time. Taking on the work of a whole team under constant pressure of perfection burns people out and they leave or, worse, are fired.
Help micromanagers let go with coaching.
If you think micromanagers could be a the bottom of your performance problem, get them some coaching. These are usually folks that care deeply for the quality of your products and services, so it’s worth spending time to help them manage better.
Absentee management creates disconnected employees.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are disengaged leaders who leave their team members to shift for themselves. These managers don’t respond to staff calls or emails promptly. They’re hard to find when they’re needed. They tend to spend time with their social peers or with immediate superiors.
Employees will learn very quickly that their efforts don’t matter. They disengage and performance languishes.
Help managers build the habit of involvement.
If managers need to spend more time with the team, work with them to develop key habits, such as regular one-to-one meetings, open communications, and constructive feedback for direct reports.
Confused priorities curb performance.
Poor performing teams that don’t suffer from over- or under-management may need clearer priorities. In daily work, your team makes choices about what to focus on, how to respond to customers, and what to let slide during crunch time.
If the company has no clear priorities, employees have no guidelines for making these decisions. They’ll either make inconsistent decisions or get burned out always trying balance conflicting requirements.
Commit to priorities and communicate.
Prioritizing one initiative over others requires making difficult decisions. Which is why so many companies fail to do so. If your company doesn’t have well-defined priorities, you can at least set them with your team.
Clearly identify the number one goal and help your team make decisions that align with it. For example, if customer delight is the number one goal, then employees need the authority to provide refunds, replace defective merchandise and innovate new ways to please buyers.
Poor support resources leave employees looking for help.
Before jumping into staff training, make sure employees have the resources they need to do their jobs. For example, if the sales team is having trouble converting new prospects, do they need training or do they need better prospect information, such as a subscription to Hoovers?
Put performance resources where employees need them.
It takes time to dig into all the issues that might be fixed with better resources. And managing these tools takes time. They have to be updated. They have to be easy to find.
But it’s worth taking the time to beef up your knowledge management for many tasks where employees don’t need training so much as reminders or checklists at the appropriate time. In the end, trying to “train away” a resource problem will waste your money and time.
When training and development is the right answer, make sure it’s the right training.
After looking closely at the performance problem, if you still feel that the team needs some training, find out exactly what you need.
Perhaps recently hired employees never got a big picture of the business. Maybe employees need to learn how to operate or sell a new technology or product. Your team can help you understand which areas of their job they would like more training on.
When you’ve determined exactly what employees need to know, make sure the training delivery effectively targets employee behavior. Ensure that it includes examples and scenarios relevant to your business.
And look for training that has realistic practice simulations and engaging content. Ideally, the training should incorporate ways for your employees to practice on the job or even let them learn on the job. A tool like Pract.us can help you with this.
You might also like this article: “After the Classroom: What You Can Do to Make Sure New Skills Become Old Hat.”
Employee training can feel like the right answer when performance lags, but it can be expensive and time-consuming. Make sure it’s truly what you need before you pull the lever and make sure you’re offering the right kind of on-the-job learning to address your problem.
Want to learn how to build a learning culture with guided informal training? Take a look.