Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leaders responsibility to train team members how to spot problems

Many organizations do not train employees in how to spot problems. Issues surface more quickly if people have been taught how to hunt for potential problems, what cues they should attend to as they do their jobs, and how to communicate their concerns to others.

I have been reflecting on this idea and came across a article on my thoughts.

The idea of training not being a multiple choice fill in the blank process.

The philosophy of training being empowering the team have a greater knowledge base and facilitating them to spot problems before they arise.

When working within an organization for a long period of time team members start to lose the ability to spot problems.


These problems become part of the folkloric construct of the organization.

Here is an example of a manufacturing folkloric construct.

New guy call him Joe 1st day on the job says, "Hey, Frank this guard is broken, who do I report that to?"
Frank is a 15 year veteran of the process, "Joe forget about it, that guard has been broken since before I came. I was told by Sam who was here before me that he reported it to the old supervisor and that guy said to make it work we have no money. They never fix anything around here."

Do you see what happened? The process has been broken for so long that the team members feel that they are being a pest, or a trouble maker if they report safety violations. This is an example of the folkloric construct.

The leadership needs to train teams to spot, report and work to solve problems before they occur. What often times happens is that the culture created is one of distrust and problem solving is seen as, if you cannot fix it what am I paying you for.

How can training solve this?

What is needed is a paradigm shift in what training is viewed as.

Within work cultures training is a 60 minute long power point and video that we sit in the dark watching. During the question and answer session no one asks any questions because their brains are lulled into a fog by watching a screen for 45 minutes.

Then comes the standard signature stating you viewed the video and are now trained!

An alternative would be calling the team together for a series of 30-60 minutes facilitated discussions. Where the team talks about problems they see and are aware of that need to have attention.

Breaking this folkloric construct of "Don't ask, Don't tell" is a struggle. The leaders needs to, especially in the beginning, model the problem solving behavior. After time the team will begin to see problems in a new light, ones that should be brought to the teams attention, and can be solved with team work.

photo- Darth Fett

-Michael Cardus is the founder of Create-Learning-Team Building, an experiential based training and development consulting organization, as well as a blogger for TeamBuilding NY. Mike specializes in team development and leadership development consulting and training, creating team-building programs that retain talented staff members, increase production and effectiveness of your team. He lives in Buffalo, NY, and travels to you to serve your team-building and leadership training needs, wherever and whenever fits your schedule.