How organizations approach training and certification has a direct effect on development and retention.
In the property restoration industry we all have heard multiple employers complain that they sent their employees off to a water damage certification class only to lose them in a short period of time to their competitors. These same persons in positions of leadership believe that the issue is 100% on the employee side. If we take a step back to dig beneath the surface are we able to determine whether the symptoms give us more insight on the potential cause(s)?
Organizational approach to training
How does your organization approach training within your team? Is training a priority in the sense that those responsible come prepared to meetings with relevant information? Often designated training time approaches with no preparation and is utilized by leadership to air out opinions on how the team is coming up short on execution. When a team has experienced water, fire and hazardous restoration employees, there are plenty of resources to facilitate sharing of knowledge from within.
Questions leaders should ask about training
Organizational approach to certification
How does your organization approach certification with your team? Is certification something that is earned and celebrated? Most organizations are one of two extremes - A) certify everyone from day one or B) certify as few persons as possible.
Certification extreme A often puts the cart before the horse and produces employees who have the book smarts without any field experience which creates some tension with their trainers. Being able to quote the IICRC S500 standard reference guide for professional water damage restoration is only one of many steps to being able to successfully perform mitigation.
Certification extreme B creates an environment without opportunity to expand knowledge or promotion within the team. While those in leadership would say they value industry certification, they either value it too much or do not practice what they preach. The end result is that only a few designated representatives become the information silos in the workplace.
Organizational application of certification
Whether you certify everyone or only a select few, what do you do with certification on your team? If your competitors are lining up to pay your employees who have become more valuable by completing benchmarks such as IICRC S500 or EPA RRP, why are you not competing for your own internally developed resources?
Common organizational responses to certification
Optimizing training and certification
Lead by example. As a person in a position of leadership, are you still actively learning new things about your industry? While the leader should not be the only one acquiring certification, they should lead by example that on going education and personal development are important. When was the last time you learned and/or shared something?
Invest in your greatest assets. Do you invest in regular training to develop your teams abilities and opportunities? Employee retention in the current economy is more difficult and costly than customer acquisition. Certification alone is not the cure all to employee development but it should be viewed as a valuable tool for the team as well as the team members.
Celebrate achievement. Who doesn’t like to celebrate? What does your team celebrate? Do you celebrate certification both leading up to and following completion of the course? Do you make an effort to notice and share the day-to-day wins of your team?
Don’t allow negativity to steer the organization
Perhaps many organizations are speaking their future into reality when they view their team members in a negative light. If you are fearful or suspicious of your people leaving the organization rather than blame them for being unreliable, make an effort to create an organization that they wouldn’t want to leave. Easier said than done, but clearly focusing on blaming others and complaining to your friends with similar negative views isn’t fixing the problem.
Today we need to talk about how we treat out employees when training or discipline is necessary. Our helpful Kids As Managers team helps us run through a few scenarios. When discipline is conducted in relationship to values (more), the process can be a positive engagement tool that develops future leaders.
You cannot have unity without trust. You cannot have trust without truth. Define, disciple and discipline around your core values.
Not that long ago I was speaking with a person in a position of leadership (PIAPOL) and we were discussing why a local team was struggling with unity. I asked this tenured PIAPOL if they understood the foundation of unity within a team. My friend looked at me quizzically and stated that they did not.
I shared that there is no unity without trust. My friend agreed, “That’s true you need trust if people are going to work together.”
We expanded our conversation by asking, where does trust come from? Similar response to my prior question so we discussed that the basis of trust is being able to rely on you to do what you say.
For example, if you tell me that you are going to sweep the floor, I should be able to trust that you are going to be able to sweep the floor. If you sweep the floor, as you said you would, I will continue to trust you and will build trust with you. If you do not sweep the floor, as you said you would, I will question whether I can trust you. There may be a good reason why you didn’t sweep the floor, but if you did not communicate with me or follow through with what you said you would do at the next time you are able to do so, I will question whether I can trust you and we will struggle to build trust.
Sweeping the floor is a simple task, but it isn’t as much about the action itself but it’s connection to what you said you would do. It’s about truth.
Many organizations want their people to get along and like each other, this is a Utopian work place, but it isn’t always achievable as there are many factors that lead to those conditions – some of which leaders, organizations and employees have control over and many which they do not. Respect on the other hand is something that is achievable, is a basic expectation that an organization can train and discipline for and can be a catalyst for successful collaboration. I don’t have to like you to respect you but I do have to respect you in order to work with you in a sustainable fashion.
Odds are if you work in a manner that is respectful, there is a strong likelihood that we can grow to like each other around that foundation. Respect comes from truth fleshing out in trust, and as previously outlined, trust comes from truth in action (more) – i.e. doing what you said you would do.
If I do what I said I would do and you do what you said you would do, we have a functional operation and the foundation for respect. If everyone is invested in being people who do what they say they will do then we can build trust and be unified around those values.
Simple things like telling the truth, doing what you say you are going to do and being organization that upholds as well as disciplines around those basic values are the foundations of developing unity. Jesus said it this way, "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities (Luke 16.10 NLT)."
Seek and hire people who do what they say they are going to do, people who are trust worthy and who tell the truth. When you have a team full of individuals who are committed to doing what they say they are going to do you have the basic ingredients for an organization that respects each other, is trustworthy and can be unified in their collaborative efforts.
Conversely, if people do not do what they say they are going to do there will be no trust between team members. If there is no trust there will be no unity. If you are struggling with unity this is a symptom of a broader problem.
Long winded lecture, now back to the conversation:
Have you looked into whether your team members trust each other? No.
Do your team members have good reasons not to trust each other? No. I don’t think so.
Do your team members do what they say they are going to do? Yes.
If that is true, what could be the reason? Like you said, they need to trust each other.
Did you hear what I said in my long winded lecture on the origins of unity being rooted in trust and trust being based on truth? Yes.
Do you understand where trust comes from? Yes.
Where does trust come from? I don’t know. I just want our team to be more unified.
Ok. Good luck.
Perhaps all of this is nonsense. Maybe the concepts of being truthful and building trust by simply doing what you say you are going to do are too lofty. A few years back we coined the phrase DYOJO among some friends, which means Do Your Own Job. We added the additional O so that it sounded like dojo or a training ground for martial arts. In this way it’s the Dojo of Doing Your Own Job, we are learning and sparring and at times fighting to be the best that we can be. Our training ground is the DYOJO.
The friend, who serves as a person in a position of leadership, I was speaking with went on to share in his next meeting that everyone needed to trust each other. “We need to have better unity, be less negative and trust each other.” While all three of these statements are true in isolation, unfortunately my friend the PIAPOL did not see how they had to be true collectively in order to have any power.
Whether we don’t’ want to admit that we have issues or we don’t want to roll our sleeves up to do the dirty work of fixing the actual underlying issues rather than chasing our tails on symptoms, often times the answers to our questions are simpler than we want to admit.
Key steps to build team unity:
In the progression of building a team, by the time you reach the on-boarding phase you have done much of the initial heavy lifting. Where in years past candidates would seek out your organization looking for an opportunity for employment, the tables have now turned and most companies are actively engaging in proactive recruiting measures.
According to Fit Small Business, a 2017 study from Hire Well noted that, “52% of hiring managers claim that passive candidate recruitment has been less effective.” When your corporate and/or local listing are competing not only with a void in the labor market of available candidates but also the likes of professional recruiters on sites such as LinkedIn, your traditional methods of recruitment are going to lose their effectiveness. Employers that are looking to add talent to their organization are going to have to adopt the posture of hunters who understand their target and are adapting to the surroundings which would include a shortage of prey.
One quick tip is to expedite the screen process through simple means such as texting candidates as introduced in our article, Text For Hire.
If you have new employees to on-board into your organization than you have at least been able to chip away and some fragment of the quantity issue. You have increased your headcount, even if that is only one employee, which is something many companies are struggling to do. This deserves at least a golf clap. Now we want to begin the quality aspect of team additions, we want to create an entry experience that excites them to engage in the organization’s mission. In their book, Insuring Tomorrow, Tony Canas and Carly Burnham work to bridge many of the gaps between organizations and millennial employees. Tony and Carly have some practical tips for the first day and orientation throughout their book in addition to reversing a myth about millennials and criticism, “They’re absolutely comfortable with getting constructive feedback, but worry much more if they get no feedback, which is what is truly demotivating for a Millennial (p 58).”
When on-boarding new team members, those in positions of leadership should correct bad habits and details early. As the Hall of Fame UCLA basketball coach John Wooden states, “A coach is someone who can give correction without creating resentment.” If your hiring process has enabled you to attract candidates that connect with your organizational mission and values then this tone of coaching should already have been outlined. The right additions want to know how to do things the right way and how to excel in their roles within the team. Honest feedback is good feedback when progressing towards a goal. If there is push back on the feedback given, leaders will need to determine whether there was a miscommunication, an inability or an unwillingness as outlined in our article Conflict. Each response requires a different approach and will result in a different outcome.
All of our processes should be geared towards creating clarity as a lack of clarity is the prime catalyst for the corrosive effects of confusion and explosive tension of negative conflict. As we establish clarity in our vision, our values and our systems then we can develop consistency in our processes as well as accountability in our organization. Every phase is important and clear communication is essential from recruitment, to on-boarding and on through employee development. Be clear about your values and consistent in your approach and the process will create team members who are engaged and able to assist with building accountability throughout the organization.
// References // 1) Fit Small Business; 2) Insuring Tomorrow
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Jon Isaacson has a monthly feature column with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine titled The Intentional Restorer