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When Your Training Programs are Not Excelling – Part IV

Follow Up Interviews with Managers and Conversations with Senior Leaders

Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this article.

Information from the follow up interviews and conversations shared below is provided at a very high, overview level only.

Follow-up interviews with managers

In our follow up interviews with the managers, we wanted to focus on a few key areas:

  • Goals of each department 3 – 5+ years out
  • Staff needs to meet those goals (size of staff, skills of staff)
  • Collaboration between departments

We wanted to take the time in the interviews to help the managers determine their future resource needs and how they were going to invest the time to get their employees ready for the future. While training programs were an important component, training along would not prepare employees to support the organization through future growth including international expansion. Managers had to be prepared to take an active role in the professional development of their staff.

During our interviews we wanted to “socialize” with managers the need to be actively involved in the development of their staff. Not that they were failing in this area. Certainly we heard that employees felt supported by their managers and challenged to develop their skills, but we knew that with many more managers traveling and with an increase in expectations at the management level, this support may start to diminish unless we found a way to help managers.

Most all of the managers with whom we spoke noted that they were told to expect significant changes in their departments over the next 3+ years. They did not expect that they would lose any staff, and, in fact, were told as much by their management. However, they needed to determine their workforce needs and hire additional staff as needed to fill in the gaps. They agreed that before they could really figure out what staff to hire, they needed to figure out how to develop the skills of their current staff. The goal of nearly all the managers was to promote current staff and hire additional staff at the lower levels.

Conversations with senior leaders

Our conversations with senior leaders was to get their input on the health of each department and the organization as a whole. We wanted to learn what kept them up at night.

Their biggest challenge was focused on how successfully implement the desired international growth. They felt a bit behind the competition. The primary competitor was already doing business internationally, supported by offices in Europe and Asia. They did realize that this would entail significant investment in technology, human resources and acquisitions. There was Board support for international expansion.

Another concern was the structured hierarchy in the organization. While such a structure worked well in the organization’s younger years, it was becoming more of a problem in that it was stopping the organization from moving quickly to produce products and services and in engaging new customers.  There were so many layers of management that leadership, and especially the Board, felt that even the smallest decisions were being pushed up the ladder to be made, thereby increasing delays in any number of areas. There was a need to restructure the organization to flatten it to enable for more effective decision making and problem solving at the lower levels of the organization. This alone would require new processes and procedures as well as an investment in employees to prepare them to take on more responsibility.

Part 5 of this article will share, at a high level, our action plan.

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