Training programs are designed to create an environment within the organization that fosters the life-long learning of job related skills. Training is a key element to improving the overall effectiveness of the organization whether it’s basic skills to perform the job or advanced skills to improve current abilities. Training enables life-long learning through personal and professional growth. It allows managers to solve performance deficiencies on the individual level and within teams. An effective training program allows the organization to properly align its resources with its requirements and priorities. Resources include employees, financial support, training facilities and equipment. This is not all inclusive but you should consider resources as anything at your disposal that can be used to meet organizational needs.
An organization’s training program should provide a full spectrum of learning opportunities to support both personal and professional development. This is done by ensuring that the program first educates and trains employees to organizational needs. The organizational requirements must be clearly established, job descriptions well defined, communication forthright, and the relationship between the trainers and their customers must be open and responsive. Customers are those that benefit from the training; management, supervisors and trainees. The training provided should be exactly what’s needed when needed. An effective training program provides for personal and professional growth by helping the employee figure out what’s really important to them. There are several steps an organization can take to accomplish this:
1. Ask employees what they really want out of work and life. This includes passions, desires, beliefs and talents.
2. Ask the employees to develop the type of job they really want. The ideal or dream job may seem out of reach but it does exist and it may even exist in your organization.
3. Find out what positions in your organization meet their requirements. Having an employee in their ideal job improves morale, commitment and enthusiasm.
4. Have them research and find out what special skills or qualifications are required for their ideal position.
Employers face the problem of finding and surrounding themselves with the right people. They spend enormous amounts of time and money training them to fill a position where they are unhappy and eventually leave the organization. Employers want people who want to work for them, who they can trust, and will be productive with the least amount of supervision. How does this relate to training? Training starts at the selection process and is a continuous, life-long process. Organizations must clarify their expectations of the employee regarding personal and professional development during the selection process. Some organizations even use this as a selling point such as the G.I. Bill for soldiers and sailors. If an organization wants committed and productive employees, their training program must provide for the complete development of the employee. Personal and professional growth builds a loyal workforce and prepares the organization for the changing technology, techniques, methods and procedures to keep them ahead of their competition.
The managers must assist in ensuring that the organizational needs are met by prioritizing training requirements. This requires painstaking analysis coupled with best-value solutions. The managers must communicate their requirements to the trainers and the student. The manager also collects feedback from various supervisors and compiles the lessons learned. Lessons learned can be provided to the instructors for consideration as training points. Training points are topics that the manager feels would improve productivity. Lessons learned can also be provided to the Human Resources Department (if detached from the instructors) for consideration in redefining the job description or selection process.
The instructor must also ensure that the training being provided meets organizational needs by continuously developing his/her own skills. The instructors, whenever possible, should be a professional working in the field they teach.
The student should have a firm understanding of the organization’s expectations regarding the training being provided; increased responsibility, increased pay, or a promotion. The student should also express his enthusiasm (or lack of) for the specific training. The student should want the organization to know that he/she can be trusted by truthfully exposing their commitment to working for the organization. This gives the management the opportunity to consider alternatives and avoid squandering resources. The student should also provide post-training feedback to the manager and instructor regarding information or changes to the training that they think would have helped them to prepare them for the job.
In the late 80’s I worked for a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Laurens, South Carolina. There were ten of us in the evening section; a supervisor, two fork-lift operators and seven shop personnel. The supervisor notified the seven shop personnel the day before training was scheduled to start that we all had to attend fork-lift training outside of our normal working hours and that this was not paid training. Needless to say, four personnel didn’t show up for the training. Once training was completed, my coworkers found employment elsewhere because they couldn’t conceive working on the shop floor when they could get paid more as a fork-lift operator elsewhere. The supervisor failed to clarify his expectations of those who attended the training. The distribution center was expanding which meant more fork-lift operators and shop personnel. They thought it would be easier and more beneficial to train current employees as fork-lift operators and hire shop personnel, which the only requirement is the ability to lift heavy objects. The supervisor should have made it clear that this would have meant a pay increase and promotion. The distribution center was ultimately required to hire from outside the company. Some of the new employees were already licensed operators and some had to receive training. The bottom line is that poor communication and lack of enthusiasm resulted in a squandering of resources.
Instructors of adult learners should be professionals working in the field they teach providing practical, real world experience. Instructors must continuously research and develop their skills, both through their own initiative as well as exchanging information with other knowledgeable professionals. Active involvement is the first key in being a competent trainer. Secondly, both students and instructors should always be open to constructive criticism and new ideas. Even instructors have room for improvement. Thirdly, keep in mind that the students are professionals too. Instructors should provide them with the same level of respect that they expect from them. The goal is to create an environment where everyone feels safe to share ideas. Finally, the organization, the instructor and the students must accept the attitude that training doesn’t stop here. It must be a continuous process in order for the organization to stay ahead of the competitive market.