Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline said “learning organizations discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization, and are continually expanding its capacity to create its future.”
Carrie Van Daele, author of 50 One-Minute Tips for Trainers said “knowledge + skill = mastery.” Without mastery, an organization cannot expand its capacity to create its future.
My phone wasn’t’ working, so I got in touch with my phone-line provider. Two technicians came to my house expecting to fix my line. They worked for more than an hour and admitted they had no idea how to correct the problem. These technicians were maybe twenty-five years old. I heard one of them say, “Let’s call Hank.”
“Who’s Hank?” I asked.
“Hank knows everything about phone lines because he’s worked here for over 35 years, and he’s about to retire,” said one of the technicians.
Hank described the problem and the solution to the technicians, and my phone line was repaired within fifteen minutes. “We’re kinda nervous about our job when Hank retires because we don’t know as much as he does,” said both techs.
Joe is a tool engineer with 56 years of shop-floor experience in the plastics industry. At age 70, Joe is working to close the skills gap at his company before retiring. Go figure!
Hank and Joe are the 20-percenters who own 80-percent of the knowledge.
Who are your 20-percenters?
In other words, who are your subject-matter-experts [SMEs] like Joe and Hank who can be used as Trainers at your company to maximize and capitalize on their knowledge by giving it to others?
This is what Peter Senge meant by his quote “learning organizations discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization, and are continually expanding its capacity to create its future.”
Leadership needs to identify their SMEs and turn them into Trainers:
- Who are your SMEs?
- How can your SMEs become Trainers to spread their knowledge?
You need to provide their SMEs with a formal training system:
- Do my SMEs know how to prepare, present, practice, and follow-up?
- Do my SMEs know the best training method to use?
- Do my SMEs know how to effectively train On-The-Job?
- Do my SMEs know how to train In-The-Classroom?
- Do my SMEs know how to explain a concept and teach skill?
- Do my SMEs know how to handle frustrated learners?
Recruit your SMEs to deliver on-the-job and classroom training, create knowledge management databases, videotape top performers, and even write your standard operating procedures. Your SMEs possess the highest level of specialized knowledge and skill set.
With your SMEs, you can create apprenticeships, mentor younger workers, and cross-train others. As more and more companies streamline their budgets, they will need their SMEs to deliver training.
Your SMEs know a lot about their own skills, knowledge and abilities, but not a lot about how to train. Invest in them. Provide them a Train the Trainer System where they know how to be learner-centric.
A successful training system should be "live"; one in which learners operate real or simulated equipment in the classroom and on-the-job for consistency, sustainability and return-on-investment. This is what your SMEs need to learn how to do.
In summary, you cannot go at it alone anymore. You must forge a partnership with your SMEs to fill the skills gap. It is no longer simply the human resource department’s responsibility. All leaders must now formulate strategies that capitalize on and maximize their SMEs to “continually expand its capacity to create its future with
Mastery,” said Peter Senge and Carrie Van Daele.
Carrie Van Daele is president and CEO of Van Daele & Associates @ http://www.leant3.com and http://www.vtrain.us. She also is the author of 50 One-Minute Tips for Trainers, published by LogicalOperations.