Training for Employees: Getting A Return On Your Investment
Providing information, education, and training for employees has always been recommended and is common place in most successful companies. If you present in-house training, you already know how challenging it can be to determine a topic, find material, and find someone who is competent and able to present the material in a way that actually makes a difference in performance and productivity. Most everyone reading this will agree that we probably forgot about 90% of what was presented in a training session or meeting. This usually happens because the learner has not had an opportunity to practice and use the newly learned information, and we never had an objective that we were trying to meet.
Every person who gets trained needs to know the following:
- Why they are being trained, or what deficiency we are trying to resolve.
- What they are supposed to be able to do differently after training.
- How they can demonstrate that they learned the information, and can now do what they’ve learned.
Basically, we need a course objective. Let me explain.
As a manager of training and development for the General Electric Company, I was responsible for all technical support and training for factory service, dealers, and authorized servicers. Attempting to provide information and training on a timely basis was a challenge for sure. As with every large corporation, we had to provide data that showed whether or not the investment in training was beneficial to the business objectives.
Contracting businesses struggle with the same issues. It’s not easy to make sure training information sticks and people can remember what they’ve learned. It can also be difficult to determine whether the time and money is worth the investment. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula, nor specific process to determine the payback of training. Of course you can hand out a smile sheet (a few questions to ask if they enjoyed the class) to the attendees of the training. I find these to be pretty much useless, especially if you are paying a speaker big bucks to come in and entertain your employees. They will rate this person well if they had fun and they liked him or her. Getting entertained is much better than climbing into attics and dealing with an upset customer. Did you get a payback on your investment? Who knows? That is why I ask my clients, “What are you trying to do better or differently after we finish this program?” Now I can focus on an objective.
I’ve always developed training programs based on the specific, measurable needs of the employees. For example, if you have a recent rise in callbacks or repeat calls, that specific issue needs to be addressed. Look at each situation and talk to those involved and determine if it is training, motivation, or process related. If it is training related, we need to determine if it is technical or non-technical. Once the specific cause is determined, a plan of action and a training program is put into place that provides correct information and a method for the employee to demonstrate competence and acknowledgement that the information was absorbed, and that he or she knows what to do better or differently. After the training is complete, measure the deficiency that was previously determined. Look for improvement, and communicate regularly with the parties involved.
Presenting a training program simply because you think it is a good idea or you liked what the speaker had to say is of no value unless you have an objective you are trying to meet, or deficiency you are trying to improve. Throwing training at people and hoping it works without some planning is like going to the doctor with no symptoms, yet you want the doctor to make you feel better somehow.
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