A friend of mine (let's call him Tom) was heading to the airport the other day to catch a flight for his next training assignment when his cell phone rang. His boss said he needed to skip the trip and come in to the office and that he would explain what was going on after Tom got in. In his early 50's, Tom is a senior trainer and consistently ranked among the top trainers in his company.
Three hours after meeting with his manager Tom gave me a phone call and asked if I would look over his resume. He'd been let go. Without disparaging his company, he shared with me the conversation he had with his boss:
- Tom's dismissal had nothing to do with disciplinary actions.
- No performance issues were noted, either.
- The company had not met its income projections for three straight quarters.
- As a result of #3, the entire training department was being eliminated. All 30 trainers.
As Tom related some of his experiences with the company, it became apparent why they might be having financial problems. Again, he wasn't being disparaging, but in the stories he shared it was clear that money was being wasted.
A few months back the corporate team of 30 trainers attended a training session in Texas. Twenty-two of the trainers live in one Northeastern city. Tom wondered at the time why the company would pay for airfare, lodging, and per diem for 22 people to fly to Texas instead of flying eight people plus the trainer to company headquarters in the Northeast. That was a whole bunch of extra plane tickets that didn't need to be bought.
Even more money was wasted when the company rescheduled the training and paid the change fee on nearly 30 airline tickets.
Then there was the time Tom was scheduled to teach a class via a series of webinars, but one senior manager said he'd rather have the class taught face-to-face. And so Tom (along with half a dozen remote employees) had to fly to the senior manager's location so the class could be conducted real-time. Again, much money was spent unnecessarily on travel and lodging, not to mention the extra man-hours wasted from all that travel, all because one senior manager didn't want to learn via webinar.
These two examples were just from the training department, but based on experience, I'm fairly confident in predicting that a similar lack of manpower coordination is common throughout Tom's company. Such sloppiness is expensive, so it's not hard to see why his company has been missing its numbers.
Problems such as these are common when managers don't learn that working at higher levels in an organization requires different levels of thinking, and that one of a manager's primary responsibilities is to coordinate with others to strive for efficiency.
Please note: Managers should plan and coordinate for efficiency, not with efficiency. The former results in profits; the latter in costly mistakes.
Still, the question remains, why don't more managers do so?
Great question, glad you asked.
More often than not, it's simply because they haven't been adequately trained. We throw titles on people but provide little training on the core management responsibilities of (1), equipping others to do their job better and (2), coordinating with others to improve processes for greater efficiency.
Sure, there's a whole lot more, but these responsibilities get overlooked most often.
Let's look at the "equipping" responsibility first. It's kind of a double-whammy, because not only are most managers not taught that this is a core responsibility, even if they are, most of them have never been taught how to train other people.
Please listen carefully: Telling ain't training, and showing ain't training, either. Also, the ability to stand up and talk does not a trainer make.
If you are a manager, you owe it to yourself as well as to the health of your organization to seek out training on how to train other people. I can't tell you how many managers in my Train the Trainer workshops end up saying "Wow – so that's why my team doesn't learn what I teach them!"
Next let's look at coordinating with others for greater efficiency, which is the problem with Tom's company. Prior to 2007, sloppy coordination could occur and with a little luck a company could still be profitable. But those days are gone. Those wearing manager hats need to spend quality time planning and coordinating, striving for maximum efficiency in all operations.
This may not seem like "work," but it is the work of a manager. And, in large companies such as Tom's, that planning and coordinating needs to be with managers of other departments, or money is sure to be wasted.
Bottom line, the economy is tough enough. Inefficiency in managers today means not only smaller profits, but also higher unemployment numbers.