When you do take on a training effort, you'll want to be sure you're spending your money wisely. It's therefore best to create an overall training strategy to steer your plans for staff development.
Here are some guidelines to help make your training efforts successful:
Analyze your needs
Take the time to carefully analyze your needs when designing your training plan. This will help you choose the right type of training for your requirements.
Identify skill gaps
You can do this by looking at a written job description (make sure you have one!) and comparing the skills the position requires with your employees' current abilities. Understanding where there may be gaps will help you identify the types of training you need.
Assign the training you'd like to provide into categories. Is it mandatory, or nice-to-have? If it's absolutely required, a training effort becomes imperative. If it reflects an ideal situation that isn't immediately feasible, you'll know to plan for it in the longer term.
Plan and deliver the training
Once you have assessed and prioritized the need for training, the next step is to secure what type of training you will use and how you will offer it. There are several factors to consider:
Types of training available
- Internal resources: Ask yourself what resources you have in-house. Seasoned employees may be perfect to take on coaching or mentoring roles. Inexpensive to provide, these are among the most effective types of training
- External resources: Formal seminars, conferences, private trainers and videos are all good methods for learning. These tools are more expensive, but are professionally developed and often yield good results
One-on-one vs. group sessions, e-learning vs. in-person instruction, on-site or off-site? These questions will be answered by a blend of factors: what's available, what best suits your needs, and what you can afford.
It's important to balance your need to save with the long-term benefit of developing staff. Try to determine the best type of training available for the amount you have to spend. For more information, read go2HR's article on Budgeting for Training.
Don't forget to secure management and staff commitment
Before you can execute a training program, you need to have agreement from the senior person in your company that training is a priority. This person will need to support the plan fully and agree to milestones, costs, dates and deliverables.
Employee commitment is also required. Talk to your staff about the goals for the training and why it's important to the business that they undertake the learning effort. Most often, employees will respond favourably to your investment in their development. Today's employees look beyond their paycheques; they value and embrace opportunities to learn new skills.
Analyze training efforts and their impact
Training can be costly, so you will want to assess its impact. However, sometimes its effect cannot be translated simply into bottom line dollars and cents.
Ideally, you might track variables before and after training to verify improvements after development efforts. If the training was on customer service, the end result may be fewer customer complaints and/or an increase in sales. Training on a new computer system may net fewer errors or quicker processing. You may need to review why you sought training to begin with and whether your concerns have been remedied.
Changes may not occur overnight, so it's important to be patient. Training is a long-term investment, and often the benefits are not immediately obvious. However, your efforts in developing your people will help you in many ways. Staff will be more knowledgeable, they'll be more likely to stick around, and your commitment to training will help you earn a reputation as an employer of choice.