Where’s the Boss?

This is kind of an interesting story recently told to me by one of my colleagues. It’s about training and the support needed from the top.

Tom Slattery, a MEMIC safety consultant, coordinated ergonomic training for a company that was experiencing frequent back and soft tissue injuries. The training happened early one morning at the company's headquarters. The visual aids were setup, coffee was brewed and a groggy crowd settled in for the show. To kick it off, one of the senior management team went over housekeeping items, introduced "the folks from the insurance company" and then promptly left the room. Think of the message his leaving sent.

I have been in the same situation before. You can see it in their faces: "I have to sit through this, but he doesn't?" or "If this is so important, why aren't the supervisors here?"  These are legitimate views that many trainees take and it is one that easily can be eliminated if the company makes the basic effort to attend. It will be seen as a top-to-bottom buy-in by all levels of an organization.

It is not always possible to have the top managers in every training nor is it sometimes enough. But to never attend is a failure on management's behalf. How can they support initiatives if they don't know the fundamentals? Will they know what to look for when they're observing their employees in the field? How will they know if they’re making any improvement?

The bottom line is that it sends a message. The rank-and-file will look at training as being important because the boss was there.  And owners and managers will be in tune with what's expected in the workplace. So, the next time you have training, if you’re the supervisor, be there. The chances of the training being a success are improved many times over.