Should We Adopt a Training Policy?

By Staff Report

Feb. 9, 2015

Dear Development Dilemma:

Behavioral researchers say people are intrinsically motivated to get proficient in their work, achieve “mastery” and job/career growth. If you have to “force participation,” the training is either missing the mark or you’re training the wrong people.

An effective training program is judged by a couple of key metrics: participation and impact. To help ensure your policy and program achieve its goal, define and prioritize the company’s training needs and develop methods and content that align with participant’s abilities, needs, interests and personal motivators. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Youneed support from top management and other key influencers to champion this endeavor. Form a small team of six to eight people from across the company with enlightened self-interest in developing a high performance workforce.

Discuss the vision, or aspirations. Some guiding questions: What are the impact outcomes we want? What might be success indicators? What internal knowledge and skills do we need to address competitive pressures and/or market demands? Do we have the skills and talent we need? What are the gaps? What are the benefits and trade offs for investing in the workforce?

Identify and prioritize the company’s training needs. Get diverse input from across the system. Develop a short online survey of 10 questions or fewer. Host focus groups for managers and individual contributors to discuss training needs and interests. Research external information on industry and market trends. Are there gaps and opportunities to strengthen previously unidentified areas?

Understand individual learning styles and preferences.There are excellent, budget-friendly online assessment tools and resources available to identify cognitive strengths, learning style and preferences. When assured it’s safe to participate and responses are confidential and won’t affect employment standing, employees are willing and eager to learn and share more about themselves. Provide assessment results to each participant, and begin a meaningful dialogue on what the results suggest about their preferred learning method.

Expand training beyond classroom instruction. Your company’s training needs may include legal requirements, compliance and safety regulations, technical or job-specific skill building, certifications, sales, customer service, supervisor, manager and leader development. Regardless, explore all available methods for content and delivery. Beyond traditional workshops and online webinars, create access to internal internships, job sharing or swapping, mentor programs, or volunteers for special projects.

Create personal development opportunitiesfocus on work behaviors and competencies that focus on howthey work. Make development a part of succession planning for career advancement. Customized plans might include coaching with opportunities to lead projects.

In summary, a good training policy and program includes a variety of creative approaches and solutions. The company must determine how serious it is by communicating the purpose, benefits and in some cases requiring participation as a condition of employment.

SOURCE: Patricia Duarte, Decision Insight, Inc., Boston, Dec. 14, 2014.

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