More keys to developing a productive workplace

As discussed with you last time, people productivity is all about getting the basics right. We mentioned 8 keys in order of priority. PRIORITY 1 is to pick the right people. Here we will discuss the next most important priority.


The head of every Division should take personal responsibility for and an interest in equipping his/her people with the right on-the-job skills. We will first address permanent staff and deal with contractors later.

Basic Induction

Within the first few days of appointing a person, time for a basic induction should be worked in. Depending on the level of the appointment, the Division head should be involved to some extent. For instance, I would suggest Division Head involvement for every professional level appointment. However, the direct supervisor will always be involved.

Although there should be some guidelines, allow the person-to-person induction to be flexible. Demand that time is allocated for it, but be flexible about what is covered, and how. However, a standard general induction programme should be available and up to date. Your HR department should be responsible for that.

As your company probably does not appoint a lot of permanent staff on a monthly basis, online induction should be the best method. Your IT department should easily make such a programme available, as well as a simple test to ensure that the material has been covered and understood. Demand from the Division head that standard induction should be completed within the first month of appointment.

Training Plans

EVERYBODY should have a training plan as part of performance management. We will discuss this further in a later article.
Simple and up-to-date policies and procedures

Good policies and procedures are an invaluable tool in training as they provide a written basis that people can fall back on once they have been shown what to do. If they are in place, they should be constantly updated.

Every supervisor and senior staff member is a trainer

The best method of training staff remains the “sitting by Nellie” method – on the job training by someone that know the ropes at your organisation.

Make sure that an on the job training coach is allocated for EVERY TRAINING NEED you identify. It will usually be the direct supervisor but, at times, a specific specialist will be a better choice. Make sure that people are recognised and rewarded for training others. We will also discuss more about this under performance management.


Please be bold and consider treating some of your regular contractors NO DIFFERENTLY from your permanent staff in terms of training and development. It will benefit you, in the long run, to develop and train them. You could consider sponsoring their training completely – especially where your own staff and facilities will be used. Where there are outside costs involved they will probably have to pay for themselves. However, depending on their ability to pay, you might want to subsidise some of the training.

Of course, it is not realistic to train all contractors. Some are very specialised and can probably teach your people – please make use of them!  For others, it is rather a matter of SELECTING THEM RIGHT. That’s when your people productivity Priority 1 becomes more relevant than training.

J P Venter

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