Monday, September 10, 2012

Management Philosophy: behavioral versus training issues

Many years ago I learned a management philosophy. It was my first time being a manager. I was young and I was ignorant. I was also more fortunate than I deserved. My district manager never used the word mentor, but that is what he was. Like a good mentor he was wise and he was patient.

When I would talk to my district manager about employee issues he would ask if it was a behavioral issue or a training issue. Sometimes it was easy to answer, sometimes not so much. However, he wouldn't quit asking questions until I could answer this question.

The answer to this question did not affect what was done. It affected when it was done. Showing up late, leaving early, insubordination, fighting, bad attitudes as well as more grievous things like theft, drinking, drugs, illegal activities are all behavioral issues. These must be addressed immediately.

Other types of issues are training issues. How to do things - frying burgers or building servers - are trainable. Sometimes the training is for the manager. Did the manager make it clear what the expectations were? I talked about asking what success looked like here. These things you address over time.

For me, having learned this distinction has really made my management easier. I am a big proponent of categorization. You can't predict the million ways things can go wrong or at least the million ways things can go not right. Therefore, you figure out what right looks like, manage toward that, and then address the problems as they arise. Of course, there are times where it isn't a case of a problem, it is a case of defining better. These are generally educational issues, so you address them over time.

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