Employee Training and Development can represent a substantial investment for any organization. However, it is an investment worth making provided it leads to measurable improvements in employee skills, knowledge and productivity.That said, it is not enough for organizations to focus only on the size of their financial investment for Employee Development.
A simple fact is that training is most effective, both in terms of cost and efficacy, when there is also an organizational commitment to ensuring that training is pertinent, supportive of organizational goals, and is reinforced on the job.
Unfortunately, when this commitment is not present, Employee Development becomes little more than an exercise in filling up a Training Calendar, often without rhyme or reason. And let’s face it, a “shot gun” approach often leads to the expending of resources on training with little or no organizational relevance.
To preclude this from happening, Employee Development must be viewed and treated as a critical Business and Organizational Strategy. In other words, it should be a formal plan for addressing those employee skills and competencies the organization has identified as important for meeting its short and long-range business objectives.
On the surface, this may sound like a vague and esoteric exercise, but in practical terms the task of reality-testing Employee Development Programs, and aligning them to organizational goals and objectives is a logical and
straight-forward process. The basic steps of this process are outlined as follows:
1. As any Training Professional will tell you, everything begins with a Needs Assessment.
In this step, the aim is to identify developmental wants, needs, and priorities. As such, gathering data from some or all of the following sources will usually yield valid insights:
* Personal interviews
* Focus Groups
* Business and Strategic Plans
* Policies & Procedures
* Performance Appraisals
2. Draft an outline of the overall Employee Development Strategy based on the results of the Needs Assessment.
In this step you will be organizing existing and needed programs as a proposed curriculum. Concurrently, consider eliminating any existing programs that are not relevant to the proposed Employee Development Strategy.
3. If necessary, revise existing programs or recommend new programs that will be needed to flesh out the Employee Development Curriculum.
This task calls for expertise in evaluating and designing Training Programs. Ideally, in-house Training Specialists are available for this, but if this is not an option, then consider using outside consultants. At the very least, research the many desktop and on line resources available on these topics.
4. Consider how the training will be reinforced back on the job.
Getting the managers and supervisors of program attendees involved in the training process is critical. Simple options for affecting this include formal managers’ briefings or the design and distribution of coaching tools.
5. Develop a proposed system for measuring training results.
Measurement is often viewed as the “Holy Grail” of training, but it need not be so elusive. Pre and post training questionnaires as well as skills inventories usually work well for skills training, but with a little ingenuity, this method can also be adapted for other more subjective types of training.
6. Finalize and “sell” the proposed Employee Development Strategy to Senior Management.
The importance of this step cannot be over-emphasized. As was stated earlier in this Posting, securing Senior Management’s commitment to Employee Development entails more than securing a cursory financial “sign-off”.
Top of the house decision-makers have a central role in the support and reinforcement of organizational training efforts. As such, Senior Managers will have to be convinced that the proposed Employee Development Strategy is in line with organizational priories, and is thus worth their active support and involvement.
7. Once the Employee Development Strategy is approved, spare no expense or effort in announcing, marketing and implementing this plan. Considering all the work invested, it hardly makes sense to use a low-key approach in getting this strategy up and running.
In the end, Employee Development is an important Management Initiative for sure, but it should be viewed by employees as a valuable Fringe Benefit. Of course, for this perception to ring true, an organization’s training efforts must be relevant and first-rate. Are yours?
For more information, check out the Business Section of your local library or the Internet.