Labour law training is an operational necessity. However, it often happens that managers at whom this training is targeted often have the attitude of, ‘let HR handle daily disciplinary problems, I’ll just mess it up’. But the implementation of discipline is an integral part of line management’s function and no manager can turn down the opportunity to add to his/her skills.
It is therefore important that the training is offered in such a way that the line managers see it as a tool towards success, and that it is presented in a fresh and stimulating way geared towards facilitating the manager’s effectiveness and status. Employees who observe that their bosses know what they are doing when it comes to discipline and performance correction respect their bosses and seldom step out of line.
Too many managers get caught in the vicious circle of being too busy ‘doing’ and therefore having no time to manage and to develop management skills; and this itself is a problem which may have to be addressed via management training.
When line managers do attend IR or labour law training they sometimes forget what they learned after a week. The training programme therefore needs to be designed professionally in order to ensure long term retention and effective carry over on to the job.
Another problem is that, often insufficient funds are budgeted for such training. It is a never ending source of wonderment to us that employers are not prepared to spend a few hundred rand on training a manager but do not mind taking the risk of having to spend tens of thousands of rand on going to the CCMA. We have represented countless employers taken to the CCMA and bargaining councils because a manager mishandled a shop floor grievance or disciplinary matter and the employee was unfairly dismissed.
ln some cases, because the line manager mishandled the matter, the line manager gets fired for incurring unnecessary legal costs! The company then faces another unfair dismissal case! Employers often lose potentially good managers this way at great cost, whereas proper training could have avoided the whole mess.
It is crucially important to get the training right first time. A badly trained manager is worse than one who has no training at all. Therefore, the cost of not using the right trainer far outweighs the need to save pennies by taking second best.