If you manage talented training professionals, now is not the time
to lose them. When the economy starts rebounding, people who have
been in stagnant no-raise situations will head for the door. The
problem is that the people who leave will most likely be your top
performers. It is your job as a manager to see if your people have
any reason to want to leave. Rememberpeople leave people, not
jobs. So not only do you need to be brutally honest with yourself,
but you also have to be willing to have very open conversations and
to listen. You might not like everything you hear, but remember
feedback is a gift.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Failure to communicate could cost you your top performers.
- Don't make assumptions about what makes people happy.
- Don't ask people to do anything you wouldn't do.
- Be creative in times of budget cuts to find ways to provide
incentives or rewards for a job well done.
Remember the difference between service and
If you have hired truly talented professionals, the last thing they
want is to be your servant. We all understand the
superior-subordinate relationship, but as a manager, make sure you
don't abuse it. Don't ask your people to do anything you wouldn't
do yourself, and don't make assumptions about which tasks they
consider to be undesirable.
The best way to do this when delegating tasks is to have frequent,
open conversations about projects and assignments. The last time I
had a team of direct reports I was amazed to learn what each of us
disliked doing. There were occasions when someone didn't
particularly enjoy an assignment they had been given, but by
discussing everything up front, people were more willing to do what
was asked of them - especially when they understood why.
Know what keeps them fed
Even though it may appear we have weathered the worst of times, be
honest with your team as to the likelihood of raises, bonuses, and
other forms of rewards and incentives. Avoiding the conversation
just increases anxiety and their inclination to leap for the next
job they find.
Don't assume that a paycheck is the only incentive you have to
offer. We all like to see an increase next to the dollar sign by
our wages, but there are other things of value you may have at your
disposal. This is where knowing your people will pay off.
The first step is to remove the de-motivators. I've already
mentioned offering choices in assignments so that they don't feel
dumped on. Another similar de-motivator is asking your top
performers to pick up slack for other people in the organization
who are not pulling their weight. In manufacturing organizations,
people in T&D often have more education or experience than our
co-workers in other departments. Don't make the mistake of using
your training and development folks to fill voids in your team,
especially for more senior team members in a higher salary range.
If people in your organization can't do their jobs, then identify
the root cause of the performance gap, then eliminate the gap or
Know what makes them grow
Although you may have limited resources, know what and how you can
promote individual growth for each of your team members. Find out
if there is another job or project they would like to learn more
about or if there are opportunities for them to attend conferences
or take advantage of tuition reimbursement.
Most people who have chosen a career in training and development
did so because we have a passion for seeing others succeed. Be sure
to have succession planning discussions with your people and don't
make assumptions about the path you think their career should
follow. There are lots of jobs that pay more money but for some of
us there is a trade off in job satisfaction.
There are also opportunities for growth in allowing your team
members to take on added responsibility. See which parts of
upcoming projects they might want to manage. Not only will their
growth help keep them engaged, it will also lessen some of your
Melissa Westmoreland is the learning and talent development
specialist for the structural panels division of Georgia-Pacific
Corporation in Taylorsville, Mississippi. Westmoreland has more
than 20 years of experience in manufacturing, working in both food
and packaging processes. She has been an active member of ASTD
since 1995, and served as the Employee Involvement Forum leader at
the 1997 ASTD International Conference and Exposition in
Washington, D.C.; MelissaAWestmoreland@gmail.com.
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