Training People in an Empowered Organization

When building an empowered organization you need to build thecapabilities of people in your organization to match its needs. Focus training efforts on the gap between the current state and your vision. This will ensure the most effective use of training resources and reinforce the organization framework.

Build Capabilities

People have different responsibilities in the new organization. This requires new skills. For most groups, some basic skill training is required by part of the population. Working groups often bring up the need for training in discussions with their leaders. For example, they may recognize a need to reduce conflict if they are to reach the vision. In a trusting environment, they are free to propose some training in this skill. Now this training will have high impact. It is specifically designed to fill a known gap, and it is championed or owned by the people affected. It is exactly the opposite of a "shotgun" approach brought in by an outsider. Investing in this training is a wise move, as it will move the group toward the vision. As they see their recommended approach working, they will be encouraged to suggest other gap-closing initiatives. You have created momentum toward the vision.

Build Basic Skills

All employees need certain minimum skills to be effective. They must have basic communication skills. Employees must be literate to understand written instructions and write information to be shared with others. For example, employees on the night shift must be able to warn incoming workers, in writing, of a quality issue with a specific machine. They must be able to interpret the spoken language to understand operational or safety instructions. Also, they must be able to express themselves verbally, so others can comprehend. This is especially important in times of crisis or emergencies.

Identifying the basic skills required is a first step. Then comes a delicate process of making those who need the training step forward to get it. Some training will be mandatory and some voluntary. Literacy is a good example. For those who cannot read or write, it is a huge issue. They have built up ways of disguising the missing skills so they can function in the world, albeit at a low level. They are typically embarrassed about the situation and often flatly deny they are deficient. They truly don't realize how many important things they are missing.

Some areas have competency tests, allowing people to demonstrate they are up to standard. This increases volunteers for the training programs. If a person proves deficient in a critical skill, the supervisor works with them to determine training needs. Those who flatly refuse need to look elsewhere for employment.

All employees today need reasonable skill in applied mathematics. They must be able to add, subtract, and deal with fractions or measurements. They must be able to interpret numerical information in tabular or graphical form enough to get the meaning. They need to record numerical production information reliably. All employees should be familiar with computers and be capable of making entries in spreadsheets, invoices, procedures, checklists, etc. They need to interpret data on these forms and not be intimidated by the computer.

All employees need initial basic training on the job they have, and it must be refreshed at some reasonable interval. All procedures need to be understood, especially procedures relating to personal safety and product quality.

All employees should have a good grounding in problem-solving techniques. This will prevent them from making problems worse or creating safety problems by doing the wrong things, like chasing a symptom rather than a root cause.

Leaders are responsible for ensuring that all employees have these basic skills and any others that might be necessary in their situation. Beyond that, there are a number of additional capability areas where a high coverage of employees will pay large dividends to the organization.


Robert Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Incorporated, an organization dedicated to development of leaders. He has spoken on leadership topics and the development of trust in numerous venues across the country. He is author of three leadership books: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for ProfessionalsUnderstanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  His ability to communicate pragmatic approach...

Go Deeper | Website

Want More?

New Graphic
Subscriber Counter