At a recent workshop for the staff at a dentist’s office, the biggest “Aha!” moment had nothing to do with teeth. It had to do with a problem in the office culture, a situation that could have happened (and does happen) in any industry. In short, the boss – in this case, the dentist – was not giving his assistant enough feedback to let her know if she was meeting expectations. He had no idea until she finally said, “That just doesn’t work for me.”

For some people, the approach of “No news is good news” may be adequate. But for those who don’t work that way, who might have a need to be conscientious and please people, more regular reviews or touching base about how things are going is vital. Addressing these gaps can improve morale, efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Customers will have a better overall experience, and the bottom line will improve.

This is just one example of why we trainers believe passionately in training and development. Workplace culture issues are numerous, as we all know firsthand: Nobody can get along with Employee X, departments undermine one another, people don’t agree with the manager, etc. Yet, the bulk of training budgets is spent on technical matters, such as how to use the new software or the latest techniques in oral hygiene.

Technical training is essential to good practice, but without some focus on organizational health as well, new technical learning may soon be rolled into business as usual, hampered by the old stumbling blocks of the workplace culture. Developing teamwork and communication provides a healthy base for working through technical situations. Trainers often say, “Soft skills make the hard skills possible.” 

Author Patrick Lencioni, famous for the canonical “Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” writes in his latest book, “The Advantage,” that too many organizations fail to realize this. They may be the smartest, most capable providers in the field, but if they ignore their own organizational health, they suffer. The very best companies and teams understand this, and they train for it.

One way business leaders, big and small, can make sure their company is exposed to training options is to get involved in professional organizations that focus on the organizational side of business. SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) serves the HR community and offers a wide variety of programming and training. I’m fortunate enough to be the current board president for the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD) of Central Iowa, which is a 200-member organization that also provides support and guidance. 

ATD provides programming for its members. Sometimes, the programming is technical and industry-specific, such as a recent e-learning showdown between two authoring software systems for instructional designers. It sometimes has applications across all industries, such as our latest open-space event where trainers came with unique problems and provided solutions for each other. We’re also proud to bring world-class events to Greater Des Moines that the whole business community can take advantage of, like the Disney Institute’s full-day workshop, “Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence,” coming up on Sept. 16. 

Regardless of how you approach organizational excellence, find a way to do so. Don’t settle for just being technically good; be great at working together. Attend public events, do some research with your internal HR or talent development departments, or take advantage of all the independent trainers and training firms that exist in Central Iowa. Make time to become a healthy organization through training together.