One perk of working for a training company is—you guessed it— free training … as MUCH as we want.
In fact, taking time for training is a requirement here. But just like almost anywhere else, training is often met with a less than enthusiastic response. Why? Because taking time to step away from your mountain of work seems counterproductive. Contemplating the effort it will take to “make up” for the time you were gone, makes you less than enthusiastic. And there’s a big unknown when weighing what you will learn against how long will it take you to catch up when you get back.
Annual corporate and government employee training is on the rise although spending estimates are difficult to pin down. On average, smaller companies and more technology-focused organizations tend to spend more per employee. So, how can companies make training a better experience for their employees? How can employees prepare and get the most from the experience?
- Always remember why you’re training employees: to equip them with the tools they need to be successful and to keep those skills fresh; to help keep them engaged; to help with employee retention. Whether it’s HR recertification, new manager skills, software updates or a hundred other business skills, preparing employees for their next career step or for industry or job changes is key to the success of your organization and your employees. Stay committed to lifelong learning.
- Take time to map employees’ training. Understand what employees need to do their jobs better or progress in their careers. Three key attributes of competency are knowledge, skills (communication, coaching, etc.) and attitude. Take time to assess each attribute. An experienced HR person may work very well with people, but need additional training on new OSHA regulations. A new college grad may have basic knowledge but not industry-specific knowledge and little experience in office communication. A high-performer may seek new knowledge and skills to help prepare them for career advancement.
- Consider what type of learning is appropriate. Training is just one way to help employees continue growing. Other options for consideration (depending on your your earlier assessment): Job shadowing, mentoring, a steady increase in responsibility (learning by doing), cross-functional teams (allowing for experience in collaboration and knowledge of other departments).
- Managers should prepare their staff for training. If training is initiated by management, let employees know at least a couple weeks in advance for a day spent away from the office. Give them all the pertinent details including the trainer’s bio. Regardless of who initiated the training, take time to discuss goals a few days before the event—what you (and they) hope to learn.
- Follow up shortly after the training. Get feedback and find out if they met their objectives and how you can support them in using what they learned. Remember that it takes several weeks of practice to create a new habit. By encouraging them to identify several things they want to incorporate into their work right away, you can help them make the most of their training time. Be encouraging if they want to share highlights of some of the things they learned with your team.
- Plan for more exposure to new concepts. No one retains every new idea or concept presented in training. Think ahead to follow-up training or additional exposure to the new techniques. I once spoke with a woman in a training class I attended who had been to the same class three times. She explained her rationale for this repetition: “The first time I did the training it was too early and although it was a great overview, I wasn’t in a position to apply what I learned, the second time, I picked up some of the information, and the third time, I was in the right place professionally and I was able to really absorb everything.”
Allowing employees to remain static, means your organization will remain static too. Don’t let this happen. Help employees develop professionally by assessing needs and working to get the most from each training experience.