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Training Officer Tip Archive

May 13, 2004 - Pushing Training Down the Food Chain

In most organizations, training which fosters leadership, management and high-level communication skills is usually reserved for the top-tier managers and supervisors. These executives are given many opportunities to build their skills through a variety of training programs and interventions. This can be an effective strategy for improving the short and medium-term effectiveness of an organization, but it can be dangerous for the long-term success of organizations if there is little or no emphasis on grooming non-executives.

If you are not currently pushing training of high-level skills down the food chain to those employees who will be replacing current executives five or ten years down the road, you are doing a disservice to your future leaders and to your organization. Everyone wants to train their leaders, but often these leaders are reluctant to participate because of their busy schedules. Do you find it difficult to get GS-14s, 15s and SESers into a training room for more than one day (sometimes even a half day)? We've found this to be a major problem.

So you have some training dollars and you know in your gut that these top executives will be retiring or moving elsewhere in the next five years. Yet, your bosses want you to make sure you provide training for them. We are proposing that you suggest to your bosses that you use some of those dollars for executive potential training for the GS-10s through GS-13s instead. Don't neglect the upper echelon of your organization, but do what you can to strike a balance in offering important skill-building workshops to those who will be moving up the food chain in the future.

We've seen several government agencies do well by their employees by creating training tracks for their non-supervisors and non-managers. They usually call them something like Future Leaders Programs. If you can muster up the time and dollars to serve your medium grade level employees with targeted training that grooms them for the future, you'll be placing your organization on the path to success. And as an added bonus, you'll find that these employees will be able to make the time to attend these programs. Market these programs in a way that spells out the fact that you see a bright future for these employees, and you'll get enthusiastic, rather than reluctant students filling your classrooms.

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