In Business as in Sport: Straight Sets of Training and Professional Development

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    Jason Novosel, Novo Horizons Management Training, our guest blogger gave me a quote this morning: “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” (George Horace Lorimer).

    I thought this would be a good day to look south to my Australian colleague for his answers on training and development.

    Jason has over a decade of experience in education, training and assessment. His experience also includes over 5 years in management within both private and state schools in Queensland, Australia and 3 years in intensive interaction with the business community to provide facilities and services linked to education. He also has a background in legal services and has delivered specialist education and training in Legal Services, including document preparation, court registry procedure, contract law and civil law (litigation, documentation and procedure). Leadership and management training are his fields of expertise. He has a background in high level sport and upholds the importance of team building, which sport generates.

    Here’s Jason:

    “He (Federer) doesn’t seem to suffer a great deal from injury like other players….”

    “As a person who enjoys watching and participating in a wide variety of sports, I was watching Federer play a match in the 2011 French Tennis Open. He was doing quite well against his opponent. The ‘FedExpress’ is always being challenged by Nadal and Djokovic for supremacy, but I still really enjoy his style of play – so smooth and classic. The commentators were commenting on exactly the same thing and one mentioned Federer’s training regime. It was to the effect of “Federer must be doing something right with his training and preparation. “He doesn’t seem to suffer a great deal from injury like other players….”. Think about how this statement relates to your organisation. When competing, do you think a champion like Federer would willingly participate in any activity or training that does not benefit his own game? What kinds of “injuries” could your organisation suffer if it did not offer proper and relevant training opportunities to employees?

    “Any sports champion will attest to training being a must when it comes to success. When a player prepares correctly they are less likely to suffer injury and defeat. Match practice is one important aspect for sure, but if an athlete doesn’t train effectively to sharpen skills (both physical and mental) they are not as successful. Natural talent only takes an athlete so far. Of course, upsets can always occur. We cannot predict those, but by being prepared beforehand the tennis player can minimise the effect of upsets.

    Organisations that do not, and individuals who do not engage in active, relevant training are just not as effective.

    “The same practice is true for your role as a manager offering training to employees – or for employees seeking out their own training opportunities. Quite some time should be dedicated to discussing the training needs of team members. In order for an organisation to offer effective training and professional development for their employees that organisation must know what skills and talent already exist there.

    “Relevant training and professional development opportunities are vital ingredients for building successful teams and competent individuals within those teams. Organisations and individuals who do not engage in active, relevant training are just not as effective. Here’s why training and professional development are important:

    1. Both build confidence – They often affirms the practices that already exist within a team. This builds a person’s confidence and facilitates trust in their own abilities. Trust and confidence within a team and for a team’s leader are cornerstones to building an effective unit. Confident and competent staff are better able to handle challenges and actively seek responsibility.
    2. Both introduce new knowledge – It is necessary for innovation and continuous improvement that a team is exposed to new ways of doing things. This allows for more effective problem-solving and can eliminate the danger of boredom and the feeling of falling into the rut of daily routine.
    3. Both are investments in the organisation’s future – Retention rates of staff are raised with investment in training and professional development. Staff feel they are a valued asset of the organisation and understand the global significance of their roles within the organisation. Productivity tends to increase and the reputation of the organisation benefits in the wider market.
    4. Both tend to be contagious – Once a group has attended an entertaining and engaging conference, seminar or internal training session, the enthusiasm tends to spread to other departments as colleagues discuss and recommend what they have been exposed to.
    5. Both can take a wide variety of forms – Different people respond to different stimulus and have different ways of learning. Training and professional development can be accessed through many avenues, providing the choice necessary to best suit the organisation’s objectives in providing these opportunities. Sometimes the most simple and inexpensive team meeting, if handled in the correct way, can yield unexpected results!
    Recruitment firms are actively targeting jobs including project management, logistics and supervisory roles.

    “In the current economic climate of decline and gradual recovery many governments are dedicating funds to assist with the training and professional development of the workforce – especially in industries where there is a skills shortage.

    “In my own state in Australia the government is offering $50 million each year to Skills Queensland, an industry-led statutory authority, and grants of up to $2 million.

    “There are also rich veins to be tapped in the mining sector – both in skilled labour and professional positions. Recruitment firms are actively targeting jobs including project management, logistics and supervisory roles.

    “The advice of these agencies to those wishing to make a shift to a different industry is to do some research into the skills needed and then get some training.

    “Whether you represent an organisation or are an individual learner: explore the possibilities in training and professional development, support initiatives, listen to the needs of team members, link training and professional development to your team’s/organisation’s goals and objectives…and it’ll be GAME, SET, MATCH!”

    Jason has the right idea and makes some good points. (These are my comments below.)

    Many times that talent is right under our noses and we fail to see it. Some employees will seek out training opportunities–especially if they know what’s good for them, but generally management has to give them the nudge. A positive nudge works best. Better than “you’ll lose your job if you don’t do the training.” I don’t know about business folk “Down Under,” but Americans are notoriously for thinking “what’s in it for me?” If there is an incentive for the training, they are more likely to take it. If it won’t make a difference, then they may not bother?

    Many times that talent is right under our noses and we fail to see it.

    Business management should know that training makes an employee more efficient if he or she uses that training. That much is obvious, but mostly it seems until human resources or the union rep tells them, management would rather not be bothered. What this usually means is that the training gets the “required” emphasis. Training sends out a letter, saying an employee must have a training plan (mandatory by such and such time) and if they want training reimbursed they must fill out all the necessary paperwork.

    Oh, and you better know what you want or need because no one is going to help you there. Meaning no one is going to tell you what you need to further or enhance your career. Ironically, everyone seems too busy to take care of its most important resource–its people, and its best resource: trained people.

    Employees have a tough choice, but the Office helps them in a negative way by mandating training, and not really supporting the effort. Training that is forced upon employees is not usually well-regarded. Employees know that training takes them away from the work they are expected to do on any given day. If they don’t get that work done, their present job is in jeopardy (especially in this economy)–let alone their efficiency is affected.

    Should someone get credit for training on his or her evaluation. It has the potential to improve performance–especially if it is new information. Promoting the idea of training as a part of an evaluation says management is paying attention and giving credit where it is due.

    We pay more for the qualifications a person brings to the job so why not here, where we are adding to the qualifications? As an employee, I’m too busy doing my job to worry about what the company doesn’t seem too worried about. So it doesn’t work. Few take the time to do a thorough job on the training–if they can get away with not doing it, they will.

    Training is a must, but it’s not always obvious in the business scheme. It’s like a battery that doesn’t have enough juice to start the car. If the car starts, you don’t know you need a new battery. If the business seems to be working, everything is fine–until you have a problem. People not showing up for work, a lot of sick calls, jobs not getting done, sloppy work, lost customers, etc., then you start thinking I need help. Training is the first place management looks. Unfortunately, as you know, sometimes the problems have progressed too far for training to be the solution, and, of course, not all problems that occur can be resolved by training. But sometimes training can prevent problems by maintaining a high performing, highly motivated workforce.

    I happen to think a proactive approach with the people who work for you is always better. It was probably the one thing I liked about the military; in spite of what you see in the movies, my leaders always looked after us–and that made us more willing to follow them.

    Management consultants say it is morale. Morale experts say proper looking after your people, making them feel wanted, needed and useful makes them happy and efficient workers. Gee, if I had only thought of that sooner. A little sarcasm…

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    For more information on management training and professional development in Jason’s Australia, check out his website. Look for him on Facebook and Twitter: @Novohorizons.

    I, too, have a website where you can find items I have written. For more information on my peculiar take on training, check out my best selling The Cave Man Guide To Training and Development, and for a look at a world that truly needs a reality check, see my novel about the near future, Harry’s Reality! Meanwhile, Happy Training.