Making Training Work For Your Organisation.
Here at Seams LMS we believe strongly in the importance of training. Our parent company, Optimum Results, has 20 years’ experience in business training and professional development, and it’s been a maxim in these offices that we “improve the performance of organisations through the performance of people” since before there was a Seams LMS. On the job training is a very effective way to train employees, since it happens in the workplace with people who already do the job every day. Having said that, any training can be a significant investment for any organisation, so like any other expense, you have to make sure you’re getting the maximum possible value for every penny – here’s 4 simple rules of thumb to ensure that you get the best bang for your training buck:
1) You’ll have to train on the job anyway, to some extent – on the job training is unavoidable. No-one enters a new workplace or role fully-formed, so codify it, agree measurable results, and make it a formal part of your training procedures. Make your workplace an environment for ongoing learning and development. That can mean incorporating access to online training content, but at the very least it must mean a commitment to supporting your employees as they develop competencies and gain experience.
Off-the-job training (even off-site training) has its place in any company’s training regime, once it’s practical, applicable and delivered correctly. However, it’s not enough to once a year pack up your staff and ship them off to a disused office to sit quietly through a Powerpoint presentation. You need to allow your employees to use the new skills and procedures that they’ll learn, and that’s one of the key advantages of on-the-job training. Your staff will learn in the real work environment, they’ll get one-on-one training from the supervisor who’s instructing them, and they will see the effectiveness (or otherwise) of any new skills they pick up.
2) Even (perhaps especially) for on-the-job training, have clearly defined, easy to follow training plans – this is essential. One of the risks of on-the-job training is that it might disappear in the hustle of the work day. That can’t be allowed. Document the process, document the procedure or skill being taught, and give your employee access to this documentation on an ongoing basis for the purpose refreshing procedures and competencies.
Make sure that all your managers are covering the same material, and that once it’s covered it’s recorded. It’s essential that all you can clearly define who in your organisation has been trained in what, and who still needs training. You need to know this for obvious practical reasons, but just as importantly for the purposes of further planning – how effective was this training plan, or that one? Why? You need to know these things, so the plan should cover every step of the training process, past initial delivery right up to the recording of results.
3) We’ve touched slightly on this before in the previous point, but it’s worthy of its own bullet on this list – provide supplementary materials. This gives your employees the opportunity to refresh their training as they feel they need it. If it goes in the first time, great, but in most workplaces there are tasks which crop up intermittently – it has to be done today, but won’t be for a week after – not ideal when trying to learn the procedure. Access to refresher materials in a situation like that is crucial.
Quite aside from a situation like that though, there’s plenty of good reasons to provide access to supplemental material. Not everyone learns in the same way, or at the same pace. While some people will grasp a task best simply by going through the mechanical motions, others understand better through context and some people pick it up just by reading about it. Broaden the base of the work and you’ll cover a wider field of engagement, and produce a more efficient, effective, and skilled body of staff.
4) Provide opportunities within the organisation to develop and grow- this is a key factor in employee engagement. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, while most modern employees look to training as a kind of security in the job market, they aren’t likely to leave an organisation where they feel advancement and development is possible.
In some ways it can be seen as the final point of training from the individual trainee’s perspective. More responsibility, greater freedom in exercising their own professional judgement, a great sense of being valued and trusted by their organisation and employers. Here at Seams we tend to focus on the organisational effects of training, greater productivity, more effective work practices, but there is another perspective – the perspective of the person being trained – that is crucial to understand. People want to feel effective and competent, and training training should be a way of reinforcing that, of making it true. Once it is, your employees should be able to experience that.