Our Third Training Hero - [website] Email Print
Published: 29th of Aug 2017 by: Debbie Engelbrecht CEO

Elizabeth is the general manager of a transport company. They approached us for, firstly, sales training and later, for emotional intelligence training. A number of their people came through our doors and it became apparent to us that Elizabeth had a special knack for seeing potential in others.

They were expanding at an exponential rate and their logistics department was starting to take some strain. Under resourced due to expansion, they were beginning to make errors and what was a 100% satisfaction client rate was starting to diminish. The complaints started creeping in slowly but surely.

Elizabeth was keen to have her staff step up to these new challenges and to have them see the potential in the company and especially in their personal capacity as well.

The company opened a Johannesburg branch and their clients were starting to pressure them for a physical presence in Durban. Elizabeth’s analysis showed her that they would be spreading themselves too thin if they took on the additional KZN expansion immediately.

She identified a core group of eight individuals who she was hoping would walk the journey with her and who would become an integral part of her leadership team, thereby also enabling the Durban expansion within a twelve month period.

That’s when she called Staff Training in again.

What Elizabeth had done is to engage her eight identified leaders in her full vision for the next five years.

Together they had identified the immediate and existing challenges to the expansion and current operational challenges.

Together they identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the organisation and for each of the departments.

They did the same for each of them as individuals.

Each leader was given a training budget for his/her department that could be spent in any way they chose as long as they could prove the benefits derived from that training. (In other words, she wanted to see return on investment).

Elizabeth was also very clear that with the training undertaken, it was important that those who attended were able to return to the office, summarise and relay the content and key parts of the training, therewith ensuring that the entire department benefited from each person’s training.

Over the course of the next few months, Staff Training had many individuals from this company across our threshold and it was becoming apparent to us that there were incredibly large strides being taken in the organisation.

The overall theme from the staff we met was that they were grateful for the opportunities, but they were also exceptionally nervous that they were not able to meet the high expectations Elizabeth had of them.

About six months later one of the most promising managers resigned stating personal reasons as his motivation.

Having built up a good rapport with him over the preceding years and having completed the Three Day Leadership workshop that includes the Enneagram as a self-mastery tool, I took the liberty of giving him a call as soon as I heard the news and asked if he would like to meet with me. He did.

During our meeting, it came to light that he was happy at the organisation and that he was doing particularly well, but he was having some marital issues at home and he felt that he could not do both. With a bit of further probing, it came to light that his biggest concern was that he had now been given directorship in the company and in his thinking, this meant that he needed to develop a new way of presenting himself especially as the company was starting to gain more and more corporate clients. He felt this wasn’t who he was and that he just wouldn’t cut it as he was a humble guy from the Cape Flats.

He had emerged as an Ennea three, the Competitive Achiever, on the Enneagram and one of the blind spots for the three is just how competitive they could be. In essence, this meant that if the “three” did not think they could win the race, it may be that they withdraw from it altogether, even if it was to their own detriment. For him, it thus felt easier to use his failing marriage as an excuse to stay in his comfort zone.

I offered this gentleman some gentle coaching around this issue and the following day he phoned to ask if I would support him through a coaching process if he withdrew his resignation. I said I would.

Later that same day, Elizabeth phoned and wanted to know if it would benefit them to have a “full time” leadership coach on the premises, with all staff having full access to. I indicated that it would as this would certainly assist the fluctuating confidence levels as well as help retain focus on the end goal through specific weekly and monthly sessions with the larger staff complement. In addition, it would benefit Elizabeth herself with quick access to confidential support.

Within a month, this coach was in place. We still see this company’s delegates on a regular basis for all kinds of training ranging from project management through to leadership, emotional intelligence training and stress and time management.

Upon reflection, what has become apparent to us is how Elizabeth has developed this group of individuals who mostly had matric (some didn’t), people who had not been exposed to business in any way whatsoever, individuals who were even from extremely challenged and impoverished backgrounds and over a period of twelve years, she has groomed and trained, encouraged and motivated, set high standards and expected high returns from them.

We have been impressed by her unwavering belief in the individuals and whilst not one of them will tell you that Elizabeth is a walk in the park as far as a manager goes, each one will tell you how much they respect her work ethic, her genuine interest in them and the part she has played in changing their lives.

For this reason we have chosen Elizabeth as our third training hero. We salute you!

In summary:

Training heroes believe in the individual.

Training heroes engage the trainees from the start.

Training heroes see training is an investment, not an expense.

Training heroes hold people accountable for the returns expected.

Training heroes adapt quickly to any new demands that come their way

Training heroes go the full distance when required not retreating at a critical stage.

© Debbie Engelbrecht is the MD at Staff Training. Staff Training are proud to be a silver sponsor at the 7th annual HRworks conference being hosted at the Table Bay Hotel on the 14th September 2017.

Who knows, maybe you will be their next training hero.

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