Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Sustained Commitment

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Sustained Commitment

Article excerpt

Training in our industry often suffers from what I call "vacillating commitment." One of our industry giants supported a training department of eight people in 1985; by 1990 the department had ballooned to 75 people, and then collapsed back to 10.

This example, though extreme, is very common in process - in the flow of events and executive decisions.

And what a waste. First, it was a waste of training capacity. Three training directors were hired and fired, and scores of trainers were promoted, relocated, shuffled, shelved and finally rifled. The company's value system said this was all OK as long as the severance was generous, and it certainly was. But the value system was wrong: The cost to the individuals' careers, marriages and self-esteem was a lot more than a good severance package could atone for.

Second, it was a waste of training product. In the rush to "train everybody to the max," courses were bought or developed and never delivered; others were delivered once or twice and mothballed. Twenty person-months and $500,000 was spent on hardware and software for a training classroom. Then a new executive came in who believed that all training should be instructor-led, and the room sat unused. It never returned a tenth of the investment.

Third, it was an extremely expensive waste of trainee time. Matching of individual skill needs to courses was haphazard, and courses were delivered without adequate preparation or follow-up...sometimes by trainers who themselves had not been adequately trained.

Finally, and this is more subtle, it was an appalling waste of training credibility. The feeling among the managers around 1990 was "we trained 'em, and they still can't do the job. Obviously, training is not the answer."

Well, training is a portion of the answer (along with rigorous recruiting and selection, skillful day-to-day management, and sensible executive direction), but not the way this company did it.

The foundation of a successful training program is an understanding that training is never a quick fix. Training always involves behavioral change. And there is nothing more difficult than changing adult behavior. (Kids are easier, but if you think they're easy, you've never tried to get a five-year-old to pick up her toys.)

Adults learn at different speeds and in different ways; their capacity for learning varies enormously, and so does their motivation. The foregoing is equally true of children, but adults also bring to the classroom decades of habit and (frequently) a nasty attitude resulting from years of miserable academic experience. …

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