Military buffs have no doubt heard the term “force multiplier.” The term’s definition, according to the Department of Defense, is “a capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.”
It’s often used in the context of training local militaries in foreign territory, where relatively small numbers of highly trained U.S. personnel are located. The expertise of the U.S. personnel is the capability that can be imparted to and then employed by local personnel in order to increase their combat potential.
Force Multipliers in Business Settings
The military concept of force multiplier is very applicable in the business world, as well. Training departments can generally be thought of as force multipliers: a relatively small group of employees that trains the broader employee base to make them more effective at their jobs.
For example, a training department course on customer service can expand those skills throughout the company, or at least to anyone who might come into contact with a customer. Effective training programs take the skills of a handful of trainers and impart them to dozens or more staff.
Managers, too, act as force multipliers and, given their greater level of interaction with their teams than training departments, have the potential to be far more effective in force multiplication.
Managers’ Role in Training
We’ve written many times about the challenge of retention with traditional training and onboarding. A one-and-done approach to training is rarely the most effective option on the table. At the same time, it takes real time and money to hold regular, recurring training sessions with large numbers of staff.
A middle ground with the potential for great success is to engage managers in intensive training, which they can then impart to their teams, given the high level of interaction they already have with those team members.
Training, as with most business functions, is about finding the right balance between effectiveness and efficiency. A full-time, intensive training program with all staff may be effective, but it wouldn’t be efficient.
Instead, companies should focus efforts on developing managers who possess not only the skills and knowledge they want imparted to the rest of their staff but also the necessary training and teaching abilities.