About 8 years ago, I managed a marketing research department for a Electric and Gas company in New Jersey. My team was a rag tag bunch of “put togethers”, meaning that 2 of the 3 people on my team got there not because they were skilled at marketing research, but yet due to past downsizings in which they were saved because they were nice people. Nice people as they were and most likely still are, it was a tough group to manage. It was particularly hard as I had another employee who really understood marketing research (and was much, much younger).
Okay, so where am I going with this? With my employees, I fell into the usual manager trap. I had an age bias when it came to training. Why should I spend large amount of money training folks that were clearly on track to retire in a couple of years? Also, one of the employees, was highly educated (had an MBA) but had a very hard time retaining new information that was presented to him. Strike two for Frank in terms of getting training.
After reading Carol S Dweck’s Can Personality Be Changed and Bob Sutton’s Work Matters blog, it is easy to see that I should have first talked about ways for him to retain the training he was given and then provided him with the opportunity to get and use/retain the training. If I had gone the extra step and shown that I believed he was 1) worth the training and 2) could easily take and utilize the training provided, he and the company might just have benefited from the training provided to this one individual. As they say, you live and learn. So Frank, where ever you are…I am sorry.