Want to get a proper learning and development plan in place? Need some snazzy training methods for employees? Give your employee training a revamp.
Once upon a time, staff training and development was about making the skills of your team match the needs of your business as precisely as possible.
You know the sort of thing. “We make bolts. So, we’ll show you how to work the machine, stay safe and make as many bolts as possible.”
Chances are, you would set aside time to take staff away from the workplace for relevant courses, or schedule a few formal “on-the-job” training opportunities.
The days of such a simple focus are long gone. Training and developing staff has become a far more complex and overarching business function—it’s just as practical, but way more intuitive.
Nowadays, if you were training that same bolt maker, you would explain to them why they’re making bolts, what they’re used for and how the finished product affects sales.
You might also ask them what they want to learn.
In other words, it’s all about creating emotional intelligence as well as practical skills.
You’re no doubt aware that the technological revolution has created a continuous ebb and flow of change—and fierce competition means that employers need more flexible and motivated workforces.
If you only train someone in bolt cutting, how can you possibly expect them to do anything else?
Another of the biggest threats to business continuity and control is employee churn. This too has created a new emphasis on staff training that builds employee retention and paves the way for internal promotion.
If you train your workers well enough, they’ll start enjoying their work more, want to improve what they do, and have a clear idea of how they can move up to their career ladder. It’s about creating a fully engaged workforce, unlocking their potential and making every penny of the wage bill count.
This requires managers to be more flexible and to introduce a less rigid and more intuitive style of staff training and development.
So how can you go about building your employee training and development strategies?
This new system of work-based learning and development recognizes that motivation is a really vital business commodity.
The best chance of success comes from having people who actually want to work for you. Obvious, right?
A loyal, engaged workforce is a productive one. Loyalty and engagement don’t arise simply from learning new skills directly linked to “function”. People need training and development that builds employee motivation.
Start by recognizing that every person is an individual, just like you.
Everyone has their own buttons. Turning someone into a motivated and dependable member of your team means finding and pushing those individual buttons—not literally though, no prodding and poking today.
The most progressive and ambitious organizations have realized that you can’t treat your staff – or your customers or suppliers, for that matter – as one homogeneous mass. It’s all about getting the best from each individual person.
There’s a great expression—you should enable your staff to bring their “whole self” to work.
Staff should have the chance to chart personal training and development paths that run alongside work-related learning. So, ask them what they need in order to become a more rounded and confident individual with an employee feedback survey. One of the offshoots of personalized staff training and development is called talent mining.
Do you know what hidden skills your team has? Nope—the clue’s in the word “hidden”.
Creating an environment in which each person gets the chance to develop their own abilities can uncover attributes that have gone unnoticed.
For example, you give your receptionist training about sales processes to build their knowledge of your products. It soon becomes clear that your receptionist is a competent salesperson. Maybe even better than some of your existing team. Great news.
Now, how else does a personalized training and development culture help to build a positive working environment?
Individual attention and support make employees feel recognized and rewarded. We all like to feel appreciated.
Personal consultation and control over their own training programmes means staff can say whether they want more responsibility and challenge. Our bolt cutter might want to try cutting nuts instead, or might apply for a quality control post overseeing nuts and bolts.
We know this might all sound a little “touchy-feely”. It’s easy for employers to hold back because they worry that investing in someone will just prepare them for a better job outside the company.
It’s about finding a balance. If you improve job satisfaction, retention levels could rise. You’re also developing your future workforce by providing more opportunities for internal promotion. A versatile, multi-skilled workforce has a better commercial ability to embrace change.
So, it’s a win-win.
Creating a culture in which individuals feel better appreciated should run alongside developing team working. Having staff that work together in synergy means less waste and swifter response times. It’s a hotbed of collaborative working practices too.
Sending staff off to climb walls, shoot paintballs or ride quad bikes won’t build team spirit anywhere near as much as continuous learning and development will.
Imagine someone in your stockroom. Their previous training was compartmentalized into handling and record keeping. What if they received training and development that focused on customer satisfaction and product quality?
They now understand the broader context of everything they do on an average workday: they appreciate the importance of their quality control role, and how waste can impact profit.
You’ve just created a true team player.
From better and more inclusive training for employees comes improved communication and collaboration. And those are the lifeblood of modern business, right?
Also, staff may have more confidence to voice their questions and concerns, meaning problems can be identified and rectified more swiftly.
In a nutshell—let’s call it a bolt hole—proper staff learning and development can grow an understanding of each person’s contribution to your overall business dynamic and results. This creates greater transparency, involvement and control across the company.
As well as offering individualized staff training—you’ll have to respond to a variety of learning needs. Simply put, everyone learns at a different pace.
Are you one of those people who thrive in an external learning environment? Sure enough, providing access to training programmes offered by universities, colleges or specialist training agencies can be a great way to build skills and bring new methods into your business.
But that doesn’t work for everyone.
Sticking the whole team in one room for the same presentation may seem the quickest and more cost-effective way to deliver staff training and development programmes. But it could be a case of false economy ’cause some of those staff members will struggle to concentrate, and exit the meeting none the wiser. What a waste of cookies.
This is one of the reasons that e-learning is so valuable. Providing staff with access to online learning and development opportunities caters for many different needs. Staff can learn at their own pace, rehearsing and revising as required.
Perhaps you prefer to learn on the train ride home to kill time, in an evening when you can concentrate, or when you have colleagues close by to “bounce” ideas with? For this fluid style of staff training to work, employers need to avoid the pressure of stringent deadlines.
Would some of your employees thrive with one-to-one support and training? Do some of your workforce still learn best from good old-fashioned workbooks and manuals?
In order to cultivate an inclusive and supportive culture for training employees, someone in your HR team must have a nonjudgmental, open door policy—a suggestion box would work too. That way, no one gets left behind.
Every day includes new opportunities to learn.
Would one of your “backroom staff” benefit from work shadowing a member of the sales team? Both those individuals could gain a new perspective on their role.
Maybe a key staff member could deliver presentations on their responsibilities to groups of colleagues, building greater understanding and synergy between co-workers.
Another more fluid business learning opportunity involves inviting representatives from different departments to attend board or executive meetings, letting them learn about—and contribute to—decision making. This creates greater workforce unity, transparency and communication.
When new people join your team, they’re at their most alert and open to learning. That’s your cue to jump in.
Of course, new team members need to learn the organization’s basic processes and procedures. As well as where the toilets are and what time to take a lunch break.
However, applying a “one size fits all” induction programme may let vital opportunities slip by. Providing a degree of individual coaching and mentoring at this point enables the new person to quickly assimilate into the workforce with greater engagement, loyalty, and motivation.
Get them fired up on day one, and you can build from there.
How is it possible to achieve an employee training culture that includes this amount of personalization, inclusion, and spontaneity?
It all starts with a better understanding of the individuals you employ.
Think about their skills and strengths. What areas need more development? Do they have latent abilities and contributions that you need to explore?
Include their preferences too. Are there relevant courses and development opportunities that could build greater job satisfaction?