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What’s Your Training Story?

I attended a training class a few weeks ago — it was terrific. I learned a few new things about managing customer relationships, reviewed things I had forgotten and picked up a super sense as to how I could become more successful. Like the fresh feeling you experience after getting a great haircut or manicure, your brain enjoys a blast of blissful betterment. For leaders who want to maximize employee efforts, education equals energy. Whether new hires or veteran workers, wisdom is for everyone — long-timer, short-timer and everyone in between.

As a marine-industry manager, what are you doing to make learning a priority? What’s your training story?

Let’s take a look at the Who, What, When, Where, and Why when it comes to your corporate training tale, at where you’re on track or may be trailing behind.

Who: everyone. The Who in training is for leaders and learners. Leaders promote and invest in quality instruction, and learning-oriented workers absorb it. Constantly changing markets, products, people and technology require executives to establish, expand and evolve professional education with an enduring purpose. The learning culture must be enabled and rewarded with a budget and a full-time resource to manage the program. Managers need to encourage growth and excellence by offering convenient access and time to ingest instruction. Likewise, department heads must involve their teams and mutually determine education that will provide the highest return in enriched talents, elevated intelligence and enhanced accomplishments. Curriculums should involve everyone from entry-level associates to executives, new hires to the newly promoted, and more.

What: enable, engage and grow. Learning agendas with rich content promote productivity, efficient execution, and pride in position. Pride in performance, in turn, helps engage and empower, building a bond between companies and individuals with a team-that-gleams mentality committed to creating an outstanding organization. Initial tutoring priorities should address problems plaguing production or areas ripe for improvement. (Customers inherently know when corporations invest in worker development and say so with their wallets.) Standing in line at a store where the well-trained checker ensures the queue moves rapidly creates a sense of comfort for customers while also contributing to cash consumption. Ever experience the inverse environment where competencies are lacking and purchases are downright painful? Poor instruction and processes make a perfect storm for punching down profits.

Beyond job-function know-how, career development and aptitude enhancement are equally important. Quality programs make employees eager to learn and motivated to master self-improvement. Growth-oriented guidance should provide competencies that can be applied and practiced right away. Give me a shiny set of water skis and I want to try them out as fast as possible. The same holds for training: Make sure it’s relevant and reinforced.

When: annually, quarterly, or when needed. The latest hires, those taking on fresh roles, and persons requiring skill revival are regular targets for determining when instruction is needed. Training should occur at least once a year and as frequently as required for meeting regulatory, ethics, data security, customer service and other quality mandates. Examples include courses covering sexual harassment, company policies, product features, service and support, role prerequisites, as well as ensuring workers are tutored to practice safe online behavior in order to prevent cyber security incidents. What about inspiring people to become smarter? Tie education goals to yearly key performance metrics, since pumping up proficiency can apply to nearly every position and department. Use monthly or weekly group meetings as teaching opportunities. Ongoing sharing of best practices, successes and issue resolution makes everyone sharper, in addition to sending signals as to where essential changes are needed.

Where: everywhere possible. The more abundant access to training there is, the easier it will be for workers to consume it. Face-to-face, on-site instruction spaces are super assets to have in place, particularly when interactive group experiences help solidify knowledge uptake. Don’t skimp by offering only learning options created in-house, especially with training that will be taken by the entire organization. Off-site or online teaching delivered by other professional entities need to include take-away materials, coaching, or other follow ups to enable aptitude reinforcement. Self-paced, web-based sessions can also be productive, depending on the content (such as policy information), and provide the added flexibility of learning wherever there’s an internet connection, as can long-distance learning with a live facilitator through video or webinars. Expert education often is a combination of approaches including one-on-one, on-the-job wisdom sharing (principally for workers entering fresh positions), larger face-to-face team tutoring in-house or in public enrollment environments, customized corporate classes delivered by an outside provider or, as mentioned earlier, a range of online self-paced courses.

Why: money and motivation. Training helps companies make money faster. Well-trained staff members make fewer mistakes, become productive more quickly, generate more ideas, and have higher job satisfaction than those who are instead thrown into the deep end without instruction and left to flounder in frustration. With reduced mistakes contributing to losses, a company can see a monetary return on education investments. And happy employees equal happy customers. Similarly, career development and access to learning has been repeatedly documented as a prioritized perk workers prize for motivating them to shine in their current role and participate in advancing their knowledge for moving ahead. Love to engage the exquisitely educated employee who enjoys his job to help you when you have a problem? So do I.

Why did I find my recent professional class so satisfying? I had the right attitude for the right instruction at the right time. I took the course knowing I would be revisiting some information I had seen before. I was fine with it. I also looked at various education possibilities before making a well-informed selection. It had been a while since I had taken training, so the timing was right. My objective? To remind myself of techniques I may have forgotten and secure selected knowledge nuggets to sharpen my approach. That accentuated my ability to achieve my immediate goals.

  Mary Elston  

  Mary Elston  

Turned out, that’s what I had the pleasure of receiving. How about you? When was the last time you endowed your brain, your future, and your success by signing up for a surge of useful intelligence? When did you last review your department or company program to validate whether it is making the grade (include yourself in the assessment as well) and whether you’re making an educational impact? What’s your training story?

If you can easily share the Who, What, When, Where and Why, here’s a virtual high five. If not, you know what to do. Refresh your old story or write a new one. Ingrain quality training into your corporate culture, and start gaining the motivational and monetary paybacks that multiply with it.

Mary Elston has spent more than 20 years in management in the transportation, consulting and technology industries. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of the book, “Master Your Middle Management Universe, How to Succeed with Moga Moga Management Using 3 Easy Steps.” Contact her at

This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue.



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