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In this blog, I highlighted a few weeks ago how positive it is that the expression “human resources management” is being replaced by “people management”. It’s not something trivial. The temptation to treat people exclusively as resources has been enticing and has brought with it attitudes that are not favorable for their overall management, beyond the mere administration.
People management is not solely the responsibility of the departments created for such purpose in organizations. It is the asset and unavoidable obligation of those professionals who are responsible for managing others in their organization. It includes diverse functions, however today I would like to highlight one in particular, perhaps the one most forgotten: continuous training. And never a word better used than continuous, meaning: without interruption, without need for prior planning and without resorting to the well-known liturgy of classrooms, audiovisual media and reserved timetables. All the above is not strictly necessary for training people, although obviously it helps.
Has anyone ever told, for example, a sales director to not provide training in sales techniques himself whenever the opportunity arises with his agents? Has any ever stopped a production manager from continuously transmitting his experience to the engineers under his command? Of course not. There is no people management or human resources (or however you want to call it) department that can regulate substitutes, more or less dressed up as academics, that highly personalized, enormously practical and directly focused training for the organization’s benefit. Training that is given in the day-to-day, in the work meetings, in the individual conversations and in any act that includes the slightest touch of communication.
However, on many occasions it happens like that. Managers omit with excessive frequency and ease the responsibility of giving that ideal training and clumsily resort to the cruddy “you’ll have such and such training program” or “they give me people that don’t need training”, unacceptable clichés in a modern idea of people management.
We shouldn’t manage, at a level, without explicit desire to train the people managed. And that should not sound like out-dated altruism, please. On the contrary, it is not just the most noble of the acts in management, but also the most profitable, in terms of benefit for the people, without a doubt, but also for the organization that houses them.
To train people, not resources, first we need to know what their learning processes are. This way, the corresponding teaching procedures can be adapted. Not everyone learns in the same way; as a result, you can’t teach them in the same way. In formal education of groups, it is difficult to individualize those procedures, but when it is daily training from management, it can be done. It’s often enough to want to do it and to provide the personal means to do it.
There are five learning processes that we people use: stimulus association, consequence association, imitation, peer mediation, and reflection. A combination of these can occur, and in fact, it almost always does. In each person, there is a dominant process and the other that accompany it. These five processes have another number of procedures for teaching associated: adapting the practice conditions, increase feedback, show, provide guidelines, and invite reflection. Also here “each teacher has their own book”, i.e. there is a dominant procedure. From conjunction between them, that training to which I refer will emerge spontaneously, and the figure of the manager as a people trainer will be recovered.
Juan Ignacio Barenys de Lacha is Director at Odati and Eskpe Consulting. Member of AEDIPE, creator of the Odati Method for training executives and managers, ex-CEO of Olivetti Information Systems Spain and of Sligos Systems and chairman of the World Forum Congress in Washington in 1990.