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When Your Training Programs are Not Excelling - Part III

What We Learned from Individual Contributor and Manager Surveys

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this article.

Recall that this entire project started with changing training programs to make them relevant. We haven’t strayed from that goal! In order to make training programs relevant – they must be tied to long term organizational strategy.

We spent two months collecting data from a variety of stakeholders through surveys, interviews with managers and conversations with senior leaders in the organization.

Information below is provided at a very high, overview level only. This article will share information gathered from the surveys done with individual contributors and their managers.

Surveys with individual contributors and managers

Surveys sent to individual contributors included questions about:

  • Where they have been successful in their role
  • Challenges in performing role
  • How role has changed since their start date (new responsibilities, projects, etc.)
  • What they believe their strengths are and where they have to further develop their skills
  • Their goals for their role

Findings from individual contributor surveys

We found that many of the individual contributors felt that they have been successful by collaborating with their co-workers to accomplish initiatives. They were challenged by having more projects to be done than in the past, and projects were more complex. Although they supported each other in accomplishing projects and felt they collaborated well with co-workers, it was difficult to manage the daily workload and the number of projects assigned.

They noted that they had significant communications from their managers about what was going on in the organization such as around organizational and department strategy and future outlook.

They believed their strengths lied in the following areas:

  • Collaborating with co-workers
  • Communicating across functional areas
  • Sharing knowledge and best practices (they supported each other)

Areas where they felt they needed to further develop skills were in areas of:

  • Problem solving (problems that arose were more complex than in the past)
  • Making decisions (there was a general feeling that they did not have as much authority as they needed to make decisions and this often impacted the end customer)
  • Time management (better juggling of their day-to-day responsibilities with projects they were assigned)
  • Project management skills (to better manage more complex projects)

Surveys sent to managers included questions about:

  • Challenges in meeting current department goals
  • Skills and competencies needed to meet department goals
  • Objectives for department (goals to meet within next 3 – 5+ years)
  • Challenges in managing a growing department as the company continued to expand

Findings from manager surveys

Overall managers felt that their departments were successful and were able to accomplish the goals set forth by leadership. They noted, however, that due to the complexity of projects and the amount of projects, it was beginning to get more difficult to accomplish everything that needed to be accomplished. Much of this, they felt, was due to an insufficient number of resources to accomplish work. They realized that they were pushing the limits of on many of their staff and there were worries that his would cause retention issues.

Managers felt their strengths lied in the following areas:

  • Supporting employees and ensuring the employees had what they needed to accomplish their goals
  • Communicating regularly to employees in order to share information about the department and the organization
  • Having regular one-on-one and team meetings
  • Setting goals collaboratively with employees

On the other hand, however, they did feel that they often had to respond to many inquiries from employees to help solve problems and resolve conflicts that, in their opinion, they should not have had to be involved in. They were unsure about how they were going to meet future goals unless they were able to get their staff to be more empowered. A large number of managers noted that they were traveling more in their role and to that end were unable to provide enough “face time” for their employees when problems and conflicts arose. They noticed that in such situations work fell behind as employees struggled with what they should do. While many of the managers relied on their peers to help out when they traveled, it was becoming more difficult to do so as workloads increased.

Overall, managers felt they needed their staff to:

  • Be better problem solvers
  • Make decisions without complete reliance on managers
  • Better juggle an increasing workload
  • Take on more leadership within their roles overall

There was a desire for some of the managers to appoint team leaders on their staff to provide employees with more attention and support. This was especially true of managers whose travel schedules had increased.

In Part 4 of the article we’ll share our findings from our follow up interviews with managers and our conversations with senior leaders.

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