I had this discussion with one of the Operations Managers I consulted with for a retail chain. Their instruction manuals were in English. A vast seventy percent of the employees did not speak English, the few who did could not clearly understand the context of the manuals. Two things could have obviously done differently here, hire better candidates, or develop training materials to fit the needs of the current workforce. When considering the hiring or promoting of applicants, businesses and their Human Resources departments have to examine elements like experience and education while making their decisions. Businesses often remain preoccupied with assessing talent and experience, however, they may be missing a key element that can be of great importance–trainability. Determining how trainable an employee may be is more difficult than assessing other factors, but it’s vital because not every candidate is trainable–at least not optimally so.
Many HR professionals do believe that most everyone is trainable–at least every employee that strives to fulfill their training and is trained by people who are good trainers. Yet there are many variables to consider, and some people are more trainable than others. In other words, many employees take to training quickly. They may be assertive, secure in their talent, and eager to embrace new challenges. Other employees may be less trainable because they lack background skills, feel insecure, or do not truly wish to undergo the rigors of training.
HR professionals can uncover trainable job candidates by discussing the applicants’ past training experiences. Interviewers can uncover a lot of information simply by asking the applicant to discuss the most challenging aspects of their training as well as what they liked about the experience. Essentially, HR pros are looking for applicants that show a willingness to adapt to change. Employees who embrace change or who are, at least, flexible in their outlook are often the most trainable individuals simply based on their positive mindset.
When examining employees for trainability, HR professionals need to determine who the quick learners are. People who learn fast tend to catch on to new training platforms quickly. Trainable employees often demonstrate a willingness and enthusiasm for the experience that is easy to spot. While most employees may not outright complain about new training, they may not demonstrate an eager willingness to engage in the training either. Some of these employees can be won over by a great trainer. Other employees may remain less flexible and less inclined to learn new skills–especially if the trainer is mediocre and lacks the people skills needed to deal with reluctant employees.
Training is a vital aspect of any business or organization. Because training often falls under the mantle of HR departments, it’s important for HR professionals to consider trainability when assessing job candidates in order to hire people who will be assets to the company–particularly when it comes to job training.
By Sophia Sanchez, MA, SPHR