Mentoring, Management Development, Employee Training and Employee Feedback - What's the Value?

Steve Wyrostek MBA, BA
April 24, 2008 — 2,798 views  
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Sometimes, employee development may be dismissed as a luxury organizations are unable to afford. I'd like to suggest that the returns are much greater than the investment. In fact, it may be best to continue employee development as a strategy even in a difficult economic cycle. Consider the following: Employee Development produces the following measurable improvements: Improved morale and job satisfaction Reduced retention Increased company loyalty Increased motivation Increased innovation Better customer care But are those values worth the investment? Are those values measurable? I might suggest that competent, customized employee development can be provided at an extremely reasonable investment. Let's take a look at some trainings and associated investments (assuming training is outsourced): Employee Feedback: For managers and business owners, would it be worth $1200 for seven sessions of employee feedback? This would include customized questions and a report listing Quick Wins, Areas of Strength and Areas of Focus. How beneficial would that be- to know what your employees think about your organization coupled with the ability to impact that?  Communication: How about $3000 to $5000 to implement a customized mentoring program (for up to 100 employees)- a program that would improve internal promotability, inter company communication, employee morale, employee retention and simple goodwill. Listening: "I think we've all stopped listening to each other." (Heidi Stevens, Sorry, what did you say? Chicago Tribune, 4-8-08). Did you ever feel that way when dealing with an organization? I know I have (recently, in fact!) Consider how much would it improve your operation if everyone received a healthy practice of good listening skills including being in the moment, body language and how to acknowledge feelings (especially to upset staff or customers). Investment- about $600 to $750 per half day. Customer Service: Would it assist your company if the employees took two half day sessions to improve their customer service skills including listening and communication techniques, reinforced with role plays? The investment for this may be as low as $600 to $750 per half day Management and Leadership Training: Would it be worth $3000 for two days of increasing managerial self awareness, improving the strength of the management team plus providing managers with new or reinforced management methods? Following are some other aspects that add to the value of soft skill training; Customization: Having been a purchaser as well as purveyor of soft skill training, I always insist on customization of the trainings to the organization. For example, I believe you might use a different approach for an IT company than you would for an association of medical educators. The appropriate degree of customizing is best achieved by the experience and listening skills of the vendor. Experience in that they have experienced business (not solely as trainers) as managers and employees. Listening in that they have learned and practice superior, empathetic listening skills when discussing the needs of the organization. Measurement: Everything can be measured and training impact is no different. Methods used are surveys, retention numbers, existing metrics both immediately and after a period of time has gone by. Support: In order to transfer learning concepts to action, it is critical that the learner receive reinforcement and support to effect behavior changes.  Furthermore, it is especially important to receive such support from the learner's direct managers. Experience: You might be surprised at the experience of soft skill trainers. Many of them have been in management or even business owner positions and can use their experience to really probe an operation and assist organizations in the continual quest for the competitive edge.Takeaways: I believe it's valuable when company trainings can be transferred to personal situations. For example, I took a conflict management workshop once that I successfully used in navigating the dreaded teenage waters of my children. We had our family take a Myers-Briggs assessment. This helped not only in our own self-awareness but in learning how best to communicate with each other.   So, what's the return in investment for soft skill training? Enormous. What's the value to the organization of good soft skill training? Priceless. Steve Wyrostek MBA, BA President- Gentle Ears, Inc. 541 N. 5th Ave.  Des Plaines, IL  60016 847-803-6991 [email protected] www.gentleears.com Member HRMAC, SHRM, ASTD, Association Forum of Chicago, Regular Contributor to the Business Ledger Gentle Ears- Where Listening and Learning Embrace

Steve Wyrostek MBA, BA