Training is sometimes seen as a luxury by business owners – especially in challenging economic times, when training and development are often the first things to be cut.
Interestingly, organisations often do not reinstate their training programmes once they have regained financial confidence. Even when a company is doing well, they might still see training as an unnecessary extra. People can learn on the job, surely, and training days are just an excuse for a jolly. Well, that’s the opinion of some CEOs, but it’s a misguided one. Training has a real business value, and not just in the short term.
Align training to your strategic goals
Of course, in order to have real business value and impact, training needs to be delivered correctly and appropriately. The first step here is to work with your chosen training organisation – or in-house trainers – to create a training programme that is aligned to your strategic goals. Indeed, your employees need to be developed in a way that will help them perform better in their roles. Their roles, of course, should be mostly defined by their objectives, and in turn those objectives need to be in line with your corporate goals and mission statement.
In the process of defining your training strategy, it is a good idea to get input from your line managers. Ask them what weaknesses they spot in their teams. By understanding what needs to be improved upon, you can get the most out of your training sessions. This is much better than hoping that a “one size fits all” approach will suit; often, this will result in training sessions that are far too general and do not allow time to address critical issues.
Get line managers to support your training strategy
Once you have successfully drawn up a training strategy, you need to cascade it down to your line managers, outlining its importance in terms of its business benefits and making its implementation part of your appraisal system. If you make your training objectives part of the line managers’ objectives, you will ensure that managers place training into their teams’ objectives, and that they support them through their training too.
Make sure training sessions are carefully designed
The training sessions themselves need to be carefully designed. All too often, employees are forced to sit through boring training sessions. Boredom does not help information to sink into the mind!
The ideal session is interactive and experiential. It should give employees the know-how to perform better; it’s not just about theory, but practical application. Never underestimate an element of fun, either: a little humour can bring most subjects to life. Also, ask your trainers to consider your employees carefully when designing their sessions. Different people have different learning styles and needs.
Measure the results of training
In order to determine the business value of training, you need to devise a way to measure the outcomes of your sessions. For example, you may set new targets for your sales teams after they have gone through some training. If they are able to reach these targets in a more effective way than they would have done before embarking on their training, then you have a sure sign that the training sessions were a good investment for your organisation.