Management of any organization, large, medium, or small, hasa critical role to play in the training and development of employees. A great example is Zingerman’s, the internationally famous specialty food retailer located in Ann Arbor, Michigan that employs over 300 people in nine separate businesses: Delicatessen, Bakehouse, Catering, Mail Order, Training (ZingTrain), Candy Manufactory, Coffee Company, Creamery, and the Roadhouse Restraurant. Zingerman’s makes a “Training Compact” with each of its employees. This Compact is essentially a learning agreement among trainee, trainer, and manager. In an article for “The Gourmet Retailer”, Maggie Bayless, managing partner of ZingTrain, the consulting arm of Zingerman’s, writes this about management’s role in their Training Compact:

Management’s role in Zingerman’s Training Compact is to 1) provide context for the training, 2)Zingermanscob   reinforce how the training can help the employee/trainee to be successful and 3) help the trainee put the learnings from the training to good use. 

1.         Provide context for the training.

·         Agree on a shared vision of why this training is important to the trainee’s — and the business’ — success.

·         Agree on what the trainee will know and/or be able to do after the training.

·         Decide how that will be measured as part of the employee’s day-to-day work.

2.         Reinforce how the training supports the trainee’s (and the organization’s) success.

·         BEFORE: Give suggestions for how the trainee can get the most out of the training.

·         AFTER: Touch base with the trainee to discuss what’s working/not working.

3.         Help the trainee put the new learnings to good use.

·         Make sure the trainee has an opportunity to use what was learned within two days back on the job.

·         Decide if/what additional training is needed to meet the vision of success for the trainee (and the organization).

Zingerman’s has found that they achieve greater bottom-line results when managers are actively involved in supporting training. Small companies, especially food retailers like Zingerman’s, need employees to be constantly learning, but, at the same time, cannot afford to waste training dollars. They can limit this waste by managers helping to set expectations for learning, helping trainees apply the learning to real business needs, and giving recognition (and celebration) to successful application of learning.

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