A training plan will help
Monday, May 5, 2008/
Do your staff lack skills, or are short on the motivation to learn? Training will help, so this ball’s in your court.
So many managers complain about the lack of motivated staff or lack of skills their staff have, yet too few have a positive strategy for developing their people. Training is vital because:
- People are the most important asset of a company and must be skilled.
- Technological and cultural changes mean these skills must be constantly updated.
When I ask managers if they train their people they often say yes, but much of the training happens in an ad-hoc way – because everyone is too busy and training becomes a low priority. Managers all need to know the fundamental skills for developing a training plan and how to actually plan appropriate training activities.
When I meet managers who set aside regular “development” time with their staff – one-on-one or as a group – I can’t help but notice that co-incidentally these managers have more motivated staff. Why? Because when you give your people time, for feedback and development or to discuss their training needs – they feel valued, and when they feel valued they become more motivated.
So what is involved in developing a training plan?
Before anything you need to be able to identify skill types:
- Technical – processes and procedures, quality strategies etc.
- People skills – teams, negotiation, dealing with people, service, presentations, leadership skills.
- Conceptual – problem solving, decision-making, analytical.
Steps to developing a training plan:
- Conduct a training needs analysis – different methods:
- Analyse performance of team members, identify the gaps between performance and desired performance. This will help you get very specific about what is needed rather than generalising about what is lacking, or what should be done. A great way to review performance can be to use a 360 degree feedback tool – across a whole group you can get some group training needs, and the information may be more objective than subjective.
- Identify changes such as new technology, new people, procedural change, new products, new teams, new locations, new software, new leaders, new strategies, new KPIs.
- Involve people – ask them to analyse their jobs, break tasks down into component skills. Ask them to do this individually and/or as a group.
- Informed guesswork – changes happening at workplace will usually result in specific training needs for those affected – that is, development of teams – may need meetings skills training.
- Structure delivery – who and how?
- External – send people on courses that provide the required skill development. Short or long term programs.
- In house – courses may already be provided within the company – or maybe you need to make it happen once you determine the need.
- Mentor system – staff member spends allotted amount of time with skilled colleague.
- Special assignments – great results can be achieved through action learning where people do projects on the job but as part of their development program. Or perhaps the person gets to resolve a major problem, or develop a new approach – all great development opportunities.
- Evaluation – sadly a lot of training program evaluation falls short, often limited to an evaluation questionnaire given at the end of the course – then files away.
There can be four levels of evaluation:
- Reaction level – usually indicated by questionnaires to course participants – limited usefulness.
- Learning level – measure, test, quiz to assess what has actually been learned.
- Behaviour level – has behaviour of participants changed? Ask supervisor, monitor work, tap into reports – follow up at least three months later.
- Results – is the work more efficient, at a higher quality? Are there fewer complaints?
Ninety per cent of evaluation often happens only at level one. Need to evaluate at least three different levels.
Pitfalls of training strategies:
- Assuming training will solve everything.
- Relying on one type of training.
- Evaluating only as far as questionnaires – and not looking for changes in work behaviours and skills on the job.
Advice to new trainer:
- Start small – gain commitment of staff – get some big wins first so people see your results and feel good about your training strategies.
Eve Ash is a psychologist and co-producer with Peter Quarry of Developing a Training Plan (from the Take Away Training Series) © Ash.Quarry Productions and is also co-developer with Quarry of the 360 degree feedback SKILL INDICATORS. www.7dimensions.com.au
To read more Eve Ash blogs, click here.