As it appeared in the Daily Nation on January 30th, 2018
I believe that the knowledge and skills that students receive while in college may not be adequate to make them top performers when at the workplace. A wide range of skills, knowledge and attitudes need to be learnt while on the job. First, new staff need to be well assimilated into their roles and into the desired organizational culture early enough. Additionally, on an ongoing basis, the staff need to be reminded of their responsibilities, updated with new skills and empowered with fresh ideas in order to get their job done. There are many approaches to equipping our staff with the needed knowledge, skills, and attitudes. A main question remains – are we adequately equipping them?

Adequately equipping staff is a process that starts during new staff onboarding and continues throughout the term of service. Some smart companies have a very comprehensive approach to learning and development. In such companies, staff training is not seen as an event but as a process and it happens not just once in a while but it is continuous. Unfortunately, many other organizations run their training efforts in a haphazard manner. When conducted haphazardly, it is difficult to measure whether the training is necessary or unnecessary, adequate or inadequate, effective or ineffective. Are you systematic or haphazard in equipping your team?

During new staff induction, it is important that we are intentional about equipping every new staff with job specific skills. This not only makes the staff feel appreciated but it also helps fast track their progress towards becoming high-performing team members. Without proper induction, staff may end up performing poorly or even give up too soon. Unfortunately, many managers and supervisors seem too keen on evaluating their staff at the end of the probation but not adequately supporting them get the skills needed to get the job done.

On an ongoing basis, additional skills can be instilled in the staff through a number of approaches. One of the approaches that I highly recommend is that of coaching by the respective managers. This can be through either hands-on training or one-on-one coaching sessions. However, this approach only yields results if the manager is also a good role model. Staff can also be equipped through regular courses conducted either face-to-face, online or via mobile apps and supported by a healthy work environment.

Every approach used to equip staff needs a follow up system to confirm its effectiveness. The results of any approach should be staff that are better equipped with essential skills to do their jobs more proficiently. Equipping staff should not be left to the Human Resources managers. Every manager has a responsibility to develop their team. With the world having gone digital, how many of our organizations have digitized their staff induction programs, on the job trainings or their overall learning process?

Having interacted with many organizations, I believe there is room to improve how we equip our staff. A first step should be to assess gaps in knowledge, skills, and attitudes or what others refer to as training needs. Once this is clear, it is the respective manager’s role to develop a plan of action and kick off staff development immediately. To adequately equip our staff, we must be more deliberate!

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy