With fiscal year 2018-2019 promising to be another economic trial, organizations are again looking for ways to streamline staffs and cut budgets while adjusting to new levels of productivity and progress. In addition, whether we like it or not, training is sometimes the first function to fall under scrutiny. We’ve talked about how to prove the training organization’s worth, but how can training function positively in a turbulent economy? Is there a way to use the economy to propel training and impact corporate success? In simple terms, yes, training can be a positive function in the turbulence and here are four ways to do it.
First, look at staffing and budgets across the organization. Most likely, there is less of both people and money everywhere you look. How can you propel training in that environment? Create training that creates cross-function. Many times training is geared toward one job or job group, with mobility only occurring within those groups. If you look at the overall picture of interconnectivity between organizational functions, you can determine which groups have the skills and knowledge to move into other areas, or at least take functions in those areas. When you revamp your training curricula, you can integrate these cross-functions and essentially create an “advertisement” for how associates can be utilized 100%. As associates are trained to take on multiple functions in multiple areas, they are creating a streamlined operation that will emerge from financial troubles in a better position – permanently. This new position can only create organizational success, especially when most organizations are trying to figure out how to move forward.
Second, a lower budget does not necessarily mean the end of the world as you know it. Budgets that are cut create the opportunity to explore the options and to determine how to build on what already exists. What development and delivery systems do you already have in place? How can those systems be made more efficient, and how can they be utilized to the full extent of their capability? If you have a Learning Management System (LMS) that is being used to track completion, find out how you can utilize it to deliver online training. If you are already delivering online training, look at your classroom offerings to determine what is ready to be moved into an online environment. On the other side, look at classroom courses and determine if any can be combined, streamlined, or delivered for less time. You may even find opportunities to manage on-the-job training from your area using an instructor to manage the associates out on the line. This type of analysis is another streamlining technique that will better position the organization once the economic conditions improve.
Third, training provides consistency amidst chaos. When people are uncertain about their futures, their jobs, their salaries, and the organization itself, continued training is a way to help them focus on the future. Why do we offer training? Typically training is used to prepare people for some future responsibility, change, or growth. Why not position training in a way that gives associates the feeling that everything will be okay? When the organization finds out that the training department is adapting to new economic conditions for their benefit, they’ll want to see how. There will be new course offerings, new ways to train for cross-functions, and new problems being solved. And of course don’t forget to continue those important regular programs, such as new hire training, compliance, operations, and sales. This change in branding will move training forward – and keep the organization’s eyes on its success.
Finally, the turbulent economy requires the training organization to solve problems. We all know that training sometimes falls into the rut of “order-taking”, but from now on that has changed. The training organization, through its front end and continued analysis of the overall organization, its functions, and its employees, will transform into a proactive solutions generator, a business partner, instead of an order taker. As the leader of a training organization, it’s your responsibility to position the group as such. Look at new goals, new results, and new processes with an analytical eye and step in with a solution when it’s appropriate.
In the past, poor economic conditions may have sounded “Taps” for the training organization. But if you concentrate on these four actions, you can use economic turmoil to propel training and create corporate success.
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