As we hear rumors of the eventual upturn in the global economy, organizations are beginning to emerge after taking cover and taking drastic action during the downturn. Many organizations will never operate the same again, and many are looking for ways to absorb the lessons learned and move forward with new structures and operations. How can the training organization help during this time of stepping forward? There are several areas on which to focus and change training – and ensure that the organization continues to move forward.
First, take a look at the new hire situation. Many organizations are on hiring freezes or may still be involved in layoffs. But some organizations are in constant need of new hire employees, especially on the front lines. If your organization has high turnover or simply continues to hire, look at the training that was offered for this group during the times before the economic downturn. How much of the information was truly “need to know”? Did the training integrate efficiencies such as e-learning and on-the-job programs? If not, take the time to revamp these programs to make them as efficient in delivery and subject matter as possible. Did the material focus on how to do the job efficiently? Try focusing the training itself on efficiency and see how well the new hires do. On top of this, remember to evaluate the new program in order to clean it up and keep it as cost-effective as possible.
Next, have the organization’s leaders received training over the period of economic uncertainty? In many cases, the leadership pool has been hard at work trying to keep the organization together. Be sure to look at the formal training programs for leadership and start working on how to include them when the budget and economy allow. But again, look for ways to address the new shape and face of leadership going forward. How can the organization’s leaders provide a role model in the new environment? What has changed for them since the economic downturn? What leadership tools will be most useful for the organization and its leaders? Focus any formal programs on these aspects of leadership and you’ll be able to show efficiency. In addition, you’ll be able to prepare and retain leaders for the organization and how it is emerging in the new economy. As always, keep a focus on championing change, looking and listening for efficiency, and keeping an “open door” for subordinates.
Third, consider management training. Most likely, there has not been a great deal of this while the organization was in a contraction. But how can the training department, when budget allows, tackle management training for the new environment? Focus programs on how to manage effectively and efficiently. Try to hone in on how managers can be on the lookout for new ways of doing things – and how they can manage from the perspective of the bottom line. As managers start working in this fashion, the people who report to them will also work in that fashion. The entire organization will be looking for ways to operate efficiently and with cost in mind.
Fourth, look at how your organization is affected by compliance, ethics, whistleblowing, or regulation. Some industries are in a complete uproar where these issues are concerned, and some are not. But wherever your organization stands, get executive buy-in on programs that teach how to comply, what ethical standards are required, and how to report perceived ethics issues without fear of retribution. Many organizations did not focus on these issues, especially ethics, before the economic meltdown. And unfortunately a few unethical actions caused a great upheaval in the way the world does business. Training can help an emerging organization operate “above-the-board” in the new environment, along with efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Finally, and again if and when budgets allow, focus some training on retention and career paths. Training can be a vital partner in teaching and retaining employees at all levels, especially if those employees are given a way to advance, expand their knowledge, and broaden their competency and appeal to other areas within the organization. Consider how to disseminate information on career paths and career tracks efficiently, such as through on-the-job programs, “brown bag” lunch programs, e-learning and Internet, case studies, and self-paced interventions. Make the requirements for career path and advancements available to all associates in the most effective and cost-efficient manner. You’ll find that retention may increase along with satisfaction.
Organizations that are emerging on the other side of economic crisis certainly have an uphill battle. Training departments can focus on these aspects and partner with the rest of the organization during the difficult transition.