The Winner Is: "Too Busy To Train." - Foundations
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SECTION: Foundations

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The Winner Is: "Too Busy To Train."

Written By: Matt Di Iorio

Article Date: 07-03-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Empowerment must be supported by realities such as responsibility and capability to be meaningful.

The #1 reason cited for not training managers is the lack of time. However, lack of time is also known as, low priority. Low priority is a completely legitimate response, particularly when business is good. Why wouldn't you want managers focused on capitalizing on increased market demand? You've got to "make hay while the sun shines." But let me play devil's advocate. If the rational for not training is "making hay while the sun shines," how is it that high-profit dealers have higher sales and gross margin per employee, but don't pay more than typical dealers? What do their managers knows - and do - that the typical dealer's managers do not?

Granted, I'm oversimplifying complex organizational systems for the purpose of advocating continuous improvement, but bear with me.

Our hesitancy to pull managers off the front lines is only the presenting problem. What I mean is that there are many other uncertainties that may result in even more tension hiding beneath the "lack of time" issue. For example:

• Won't Joe ask for more money if I train him?
• What if other managers ask for training?
• Joe hates change. Who will replace him if I lose him?
• What if Joe learns something I don't want to do?

If these concerns sound familiar, you are not alone. According to the American Society for Training and Development, the average manager only receives 32 hours of training per year. Training expense is hovering at 2.34 percent of payroll. However, if your numbers don't compare favorable to ASTD, you may be losing ground to your competition.

It's also worth mentioning that revenue and profit are the measures managers are most often held accountable for. Inventory turns, utilization, redo levels and recovery rates are common performance metrics. While these are all useful, they are historical measures.

According to Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard, financial results are driven by customer satisfaction, customer satisfaction by operational excellence and operational excellence by training and innovation.

The upside is we know process precedes result and innovation must be present to improve process; so there's no need for the "chicken or the egg" dialogue, or is there?

If what we're really talking about is process improvement, what other ways can this improvement be accomplished?

The 2006 AED/QUALCOMM Executive Form will explore Lean Distribution. Lean principles evolved out of interventions designed to improve manufacturing processes. However, lean thinking quickly altered the relationship manufacturers had with suppliers, and it's beginning to influence the way manufacturers relate to their channel to market.

How will lean philosophies reveal themselves in your organization? Some applications of lean management principles involve a culture of empowerment. Front-line managers are often deemed the most knowledgeable on local customer requirements and the most capable of responding efficiently and effectively to those needs.

But "empowerment" is a management buzzword that must be supported by realities such as responsibility and capability to be meaningful. Capacity is a derivative of knowledge and is often transferred through training.

Does our industry have time to train?

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