Training is key for any organisation to be successful in the long run. A great idea or product may capture and hold the market for a while but without growth, even the strongest organisation will get left behind.
It is self-evident that employees who receive the right training are more productive, efficient, and satisfied. If you are not paying attention to how well you are developing your employees then you are leaving your future up to chance.
Due to the ever-increasing speed of change and innovation caused by technology employers must revise their training programs more frequently than ever before. Jobs have become more technical but there remains a strong need for core organisational & people skills. This means that training program must also be more diverse than ever before.
Most leaders and managers instinctively know that their people must grow in order to gain or retain more market share. However, too many outsource this to another department or hope that the current system is good enough.
Identifying the training and development needs of your employees is vitally important. Get it wrong and you could be wasting money on training in areas where your people are already proficient. Or worse, letting a skills gap widen until it becomes too late.
This guide is here to help you understand what your organisation requires from its training program.
Why are you providing training
It is important to keep in mind that there are several goals for your training program. Too often there is only a training program because people expect there to be one or because it is required by Health & Safety.
There are 3-main reasons to provide training.
Do your employees feel like they are growing in their job and learning new skills. Providing employees with a rigorous, target driven training program keeps up standards. As mentioned above this is very important to morale and to the companies bottom line.
If you notice a culture of slacking or poor quality work then your training program is probably just a box-ticking exercise.
Official and unofficial training go a long way in defining company culture & success. How you run your induction program, if people are willing to help others and whether everybody knows about the latest trends are key to how well teams & departments can work together.
If your departments or teams do not work well together then you should rethink what you are training them, especially around success and performance.
This is one is often overlooked until it is too late. An unspoken but very crucial part of your training program is to keep you at the front of the curve and ahead of your competitors. Your supplies and partners will also be bringing new tools and innovations that you will need to adopt & learn.
If you notice you are losing customers or profit margins then you might be missing something vital that just appeared in your ecosystem.
Where to start
The place to start is by making sure you know where you are starting from. This means reviewing how well your current training programme is delivering against your requirements.
First, you should look at is your company goals and KPI’s. What is the organisation trying to accomplish? What about each team? What do you people to achieve today, this week, quarter, year?
Next, look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Are you on track to deliver on all your goals? If you are hitting your stretch targets then your training programme is at least functional if not excellent.
The second part requires you to step away from the spreadsheets and find out what the employees think of their training needs and provision. This may sound risky, like you are inviting a lot of negative feedback, but you will be surprised.
The key here is to move away from formal HR style feedback forms. To get the best results you should ask open-ended questions.
- What do people want to achieve?
- Is there anything they did not achieve?
- What would help them achieve more?
- What helped them grow the most this year?
- How helpful was X training or initiative Y?
When you are collecting and analyzing the results of the KPIs and employee feedback remember that often the most valuable requirement is one nobody knows exists.
What is the ‘official’ impact of your training efforts
Now it is time to start looking at performance reviews and speaking to management.
This part will depend on what current training and review system you have in place. I will not cover all the types here but you want to understand two main things.
- Is there any way or any attempt to measure the impact of training
- Is there a formal process for identifying needs and solving them through training?
- Do you use benchmarks for departments and the company vs your industry
Remember your organisation probably utilizes more than just classroom-based training. Do you have a mentorship program? Conferences? Internal Academy? An online or self-learning budget?
Putting it all together
Once you have the data you can start to analyse it gain insights.
- Does anything need to be added or removed entirely from your training plan?
- Are some of the needs unrealistic?
- Are there some job types that are served better than others?
- Are you focused too heavily on technical or people skills?
- Is there anything that is going well for one department but not the other?
- Is it the training requirements or the impact evaluation that is lacking?
After reviewing all the evidence you should have a good idea of it is going well and what needs to be tweaked. Remember to have a pile for each of the three areas that require training: People, Company Industry.
Now you know the company performance, on the ground feeling and measurement capabilities you can start making sure your training dollars create value.
Now it is over to you. Start with your to the company goals. Lay out clear expectations of what you hope to achieve and in what time-frame. 6 months to a year in a good amount to time to start addressing problems, especially at the Company & Industry level.
Author Bio: Richard has a background in Organisational Psychology and as a Performance Improvement professional. He writes about how online learning and how to improve performance through personal and professional growth. Founder of www.theschoolbell.net a website dedicated to all things elearning. You can find him on twitter at https://twitter.com/The_School_Bell