Let’s not do the whole Richard Branson “thang” about training staff because we are all grown ups in the room and clearly agree that well trained and developed people are crucial to the performance of any business. There are some poor unfortunates out there who still are at the compliance stage of training enlightenment! Yes it is true, they do exist and those are the ones who marvel at the competitive advantage that their competitors gain from seizing the opportunity to hone the skills of their workforce.
But, knowing training is an essential exercise and actually doing something about it, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Of course some of ye operate in the big corporate world where training is now as important as sales, but for those that operate in the SME market, I liken the attitude of some managers to booking a hotel: “Ninety percent of people will say they want to stay at a hotel with a pool when booking, even though only 10 percent will actually use it.”
Most companies seek to maximise their resources and build an efficient and productive workforce. Really good managers, that have responsibility for training, have in-depth knowledge of the business as a core trait. Intimately knowing the skillsets requirement of the organisation, is the only way that you can design and evaluate training programmes that will help the organisation achieve its strategic objectives. Some training managers feel that they do the company a great service by getting the cheapest price, the best ones seek to secure the best value which in turn leads to the lowest cost.
Regardless of what size organisation you work in, training is a challenging job. The main challenge in today’s world appears to be the organisations ability to free up time for staff training and the corresponding impact that this has on operations. This is where best in breed eLearning has started to blaze a trail through large and small corporations. The training world is shifting and its shifting quickly:
- Company A: 100 staff are required by law to have manual handling training. Operations must schedule training time into their schedule which involves loosing 20 people off the floor at a set day and time. The travel time and expenses are minor in comparison to the down time or slow time which is incalculable but the training must be done. A physical assessment is done for each learner in a classroom which is away from the working environment and not really ideal. The training is delivered by a tutor and is at the pace of the fastest or the slowest in the class. There is interaction but after 1 hour most have tuned out.
- Company B: 100 staff are required by law to have manual handling training. During normal operations (or unscheduled breakdowns), management can release 2-3 people at a time that suits them. They use a fully interactive course based on a cognitive three step process so the user must engage with the course or it doesn’t progress. This significantly increases knowledge retention and compliance. A FETAC Level 6 Instructor then carries out an assessment on site ensuring that the learner is using the correct techniques in their place of work. Most importantly there is no disruption to operations.
So question for you..which company do you think has the competitive advantage?
The second trait of a top training manager therefore is their ability to maximise the company resources by focusing on how you can measure and assess training rather than spending their day scheduling and delivering.
Of course there managers who believe that “computers” will never take off!! In some ways I understand their sentiment because firstly online courses are not for everyone or indeed every course. You wouldn’t however throw the baby out with the bathwater and for those few instances where online isn’t applicable, you take a blended or traditional approach. Secondly I also understand their hesitance because there are so many companies out there who offer cheap and nasty powerpoint or video based eLearning solutions. As I said earlier, a good manager will seek out the best value and lowest cost, not the cheapest price.
A good manager will understand how people learn, will understand how to solve the problems that departments are having, will understand how to motivate staff but more importantly they will be able to communicate that through the training programmes that they are responsible for. Our final trait of a good training manager therefore comes in the form of communication. Of course this is important when delivering programmes but it is equally as important if you are not. It is critical when you have an internal team responsible for designing online courses as it simply is not about “powerpointing” or “videoing” a course. The ability to break complex ideas down into components that make for easier understanding is a key component of a good online course and that is why instructional design is do important when when trying to match training objectives with corporate objectives. Again that is a key differentiation between those who want cheapest price and those that want best value.
In summation, our Top 3 traits for those that have responsibility for training are:
- having an intimate knowledge of the business in order to maximise the company resources to match corporate objectives,
- having a focus that allows for measuring and assessing the impact of training, rather than spending 85% of your time scheduling and delivering,
- finally, an understanding of how people learn best, coupled with excellent communication skills to allow you to deliver programmes that have a real impact on the bottom line.
Damian is a Senior Consultant, Interim Manager and Talent Adviser with specialist experience in the Technology sectors. Please feel free to contact him directly on 0879218616 for a confidential conversation.
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