Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments
For most businesses, employees represent the single biggest operational cost, so making sure each and every staff member performs to the best of their abilities is crucial. Amanda Westwood argues that, if implemented strategically, training can unlock significant business benefits.
You know it makes sense
Despite enthusiastic pronouncements of economic recovery, the vast majority of operational budgets remain under pressure. Conflicting priorities (all important) and a need to do more with less are focusing the boardroom’s minds and leading to even greater budget scrutiny. However, with employees representing the biggest cost to most businesses, it makes good sense to make sure each staff member performs to the best of their abilities and, without question, training has an important role to play.
If implemented intelligently, training will help ensure organizational success. And part of maximizing the return on the training investment is understanding what, when and how to train.
Top tips for internal training success
It’s important to link training to business outcomes. If you understand which skills and knowledge positively impact business performance, you can focus your efforts on things that really make a difference, saving you time and preventing unnecessary spend on training content that has no positive impact, or putting employees on training courses when they already have the skills.
1. Audit employee skills, knowledge and competency levels
Knowing what skills, knowledge and competencies your employees have is crucially important before you are able to determine their links to positive business performance (and therefore areas of focus).
2. Identify what good performance looks like
Use all available data sources to compare individuals’ performance and establish a blueprint of good performance for each role. Make sure that you validate this by establishing links between individual skills and knowledge and their impacts on business outcomes.
3. Fill skill and knowledge gaps
The outputs of step 2 analysis should then be used to make sensible decisions about what development is required for each individual: specifically what, how and when, rather than the common 'batch' approach to training and development.
4. Develop individualized learning strategies
Share clear performance objectives and training plans for each employee. Internal training should be closely integrated with personal development plans and manager/employee 1-to-1’s to further reinforce the learning experience and cement the actual acquisition of content.
5. Make training fun
Gamification has always been a part of effective training. It takes advantage of a natural drive among those being trained, and fosters a sense of achievement and competition in order to provide a strong motivation for people to complete their training. The key thing that companies must consider when designing this kind of training is that different people have different motivators, and it's extremely important to take the time to understand that and design the rewards accordingly.
6. Schedule at optimal times
In busy operational environments, organizations tend to focus on the scheduling of resource availability rather than training in its own right. Make sure you schedule training for all business processes and events, for example induction, new product launches, new agent systems and changing legislation/regulation, etc.. Then, make sure you schedule training, coaching, 1-2-1’s and team meeting schedules efficiently and without detrimental impact on service levels – an important consideration for customer facing teams. Specialist software can automate this resource intensive task and reduce the risks associated with manual processes.
7. Test, measure and continuously improve
Ensure the effectiveness of your training by conducting regular measurement and analysis and take relevant, focused action to maintain performance improvements. Present training value-add in terms of cost savings, revenue generation, customer satisfaction improvements, and compliance requirements achieved, for example. If you do so, over the longer term you will ensure that you make training investments in the right areas – that are recognized by the rest of the business - based on measured, focused, repeatable proven patterns of improvement rather than perceived areas of need.