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The Training Trap

Staff Non-Performance: a training or behavioural issue?

woman_shrug“I just don’t know what else to do with this girl! I’ve sent her to dozens of training sessions and we’ve been over & over this but she just doesn’t do it. What else am I supposed to do?”

We’ve all experienced this- a staff member who consistently under-performs or does not deliver services as we’ve trained them to do, despite hours and hours of training. Often we assume it’s because they don’t understand (and need more training!)  but unless you change your approach, you’ll just keep throwing good time and money after bad with little or no result.

Beware- The Training Trap!

If you’ve trained your employee well and they have the knowledge they need, but still don’t do it (or stop doing it when you’re not looking!), you don’t have a training issue- what you have is a behavioural issue. They either don’t want to do it, don’t agree with it or are resisting your direction. There’s a block in the way and until you deal with the underlying issue, you can train until you’re both blue in the face and … nothing’s going to happen.

They’re usually very aware what you expect of them, but there’s a little voice in their head saying “I’m not a salesperson- I shouldn’t have to sell!”, “I hate pushing”, “You just want me to make you more money” or “Why should I? What do you do for me?” or something like that. There’s a reason they’re not doing as you’ve asked and it’s usually not that they need more training. If you’ve clearly explained and got agreement on what you expect, trained them in exactly what you need them to do and it’s still not happening, you need to have a conversation about why. This is a discussion about accountability, not about product knowledge.

Find what’s really going on in their head when they choose not to follow your request and you’ll get to the root of the problem.

Here’s how that conversation might go:

“Kathy, when you first joined the team, we spent time together discussing our values and what I expected from you as a team member. During that conversation, I explained that one of our core values here is our commitment to our education of clients in teaching them how to manage their hair/skin care at home. Do you remember that?

At that time you agreed that you would deliver thorough education and professional advice to every client, as we had trained you to do. Do you remember promising to do that?

And yet, I’ve noticed lately that this is not happening at all or is happening very sporadically. Would you agree that is fair? So the problem is, that I have promised our very precious clients a certain standard of service which you have agreed with and promised to deliver, but now you no longer deliver that service as I’ve asked. Would you agree that is correct? Why? So, you can see the problem I have then? I need to ensure that my staff consistently deliver on our promise to clients and that means thorough client education, every time. Is that something you can honestly promise me that you can do, Kathy? Do I have your word?”

 If the problem continues, you’ll need to progress to a different conversation.

Check out my blog “GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SANDApproaching sticky conversations”.

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