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How to Improve Your Training and Development Strategy

6 suggestions for a better training and development strategy – put them to good use when you need to evaluate needs and devise a training plan.

People Strategy
Development
Work Environment

Mélanie Roy

Monday, January 18, 2016

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In order to encourage employee engagement, retain the best talent and remain competitive on the market, you have decided to rely on training and development of competencies (among other things). Bravo! The most competitive businesses know that they need to develop a culture of learning and innovation.

Then again, you must be wondering how to make sure you truly reap all the benefits from your investments. So here are 6 suggestions to consider at the time of evaluating needs and devising a plan for training your employees.

Making Sure that What is Lacking is Indeed Training

One of the reasons training sometimes yields few results is because the solution tends to be applied to a problem that would in fact require a different one. It is therefore essential to evaluate whether the problem you are attempting to solve stems from a shortcoming in terms of competencies.

Investing in training and development would be useless if the low output is caused by a lack of motivation, an inappropriate work environment or by difficulties at the management level.

Training and development of competencies is an appropriate solution if the low output is indeed caused by insufficient mastery of a certain task, and is therefore related to knowledge, know-how or behaviour.

Targeting Training Needs

You have determined that a certain employee would certainly need a little boost in order to develop certain competencies. At this stage, it would be advantageous to complete a task analysis, which would allow you to get a better grasp on the job requirements and to formulate realistic and targeted training objectives.

You could do so by evaluating the job description, in other words, by comparing the requirements for a given position with the skills that the employee has or hasn’t mastered.

You could also proceed through observation. For instance, you might observe how your most productive employees go about their jobs, which could then make it apparent to you the areas where one worker may be less efficient.

Ensuring that the Contents of the Training are Pertinent

We all know that time is a precious resource and that employees don’t enjoy having the impression that they are losing their time. They will therefore be more receptive to the idea of participating in a training program if they understand how it could be beneficial to them in their work. Keep in mind that they don’t necessarily want to know the objective of the training, but, rather, are interested in the impact it might have on their work, their performance and their ability to contribute towards the objectives of the company.

If you have pre-emptively made an analysis of the tasks, you will have an easier time selecting a training or creating a development program that directly responds to a specific employee’s needs. This will greatly increase their motivation to go through the training and to put the newly acquired information into use.

Confirming that the Approach is Adapted to the Learner

In addition to making sure that the contents are adapted to the job in order to make the training efficient, the approach must also be adapted to the learner’s specific way of learning.

For instance, a learner who has a “practical” approach would appreciate concrete examples and clear visuals. They seek to quickly apply the newly acquired information because they have a general tendency of learning through practice.

A learner who has a conceptual way of learning would prefer to have a lot of information, whether it comes in the form of a presentation or readings, and they will want to observe and reflect upon the new data before applying it. Participating in conferences or webinars is very suitable for this type of individual.

You can evaluate your employees’ learning style with psychometric tests; this will allow you to offer a training that corresponds to their natural abilities in terms of learning. This way, they will learn more quickly and easily.

Internal or External Training?

Should you call upon an external organisation to fulfill your need for training? This, of course, depends on context.

If shortcomings relate to knowledge about procedures, products or company-specific systems, you might prefer an internal coach who knows all of your company’s habits and customs.

If the deficiencies have to do with skills, you will need to weigh the pros and cons. It could be very beneficial to call upon an external organization that could offer specialized training.

For instance, training in selling techniques could greatly benefit a salesperson who has a harder time closing sales. Calling upon an external organization could also be pertinent if you want to invest in an individual’s development – for instance, a new manager – who would need a more advance training plan in order to reach full potential.

Then again, if you need to train a larger number of employees, if the training requires significant follow-ups, or if you have the necessary time and resources for creating a tailor-made training, it could be very advantageous to choose an internal coach.

Ensuring that the Coach has the Required Skills and Expertise

If you opt for internal training, make sure that the person who has this responsibility has the required competencies and expertise. If they lack expertise, they will not seem very credible in the eyes of their colleagues, who will therefore not take the training very seriously.

The employee that you have selected will need to have coaching abilities, such as good communication skills and the ability to adapt to others. Also, a coach who is motivated by being helpful to his colleagues and who will be open to their emotions will have more of a tendency to use positive reinforcement as a tool to motivate.

It would also be useful to be aware of the coach’s learning style. Since people have a tendency to transmit information in the way that they themselves prefer learning, this can sometimes cause incomprehension. For instance, a very conceptual coach might use an excessively abstract language  that will not correspond to the needs of a practical learner, who would prefer concrete data – unless the trainer is conscious of this bias.

It could therefore be useful to evaluate the personality and learning style of your potential coaches.

Therefore, to Increase the Efficiency of your Strategy for Training and Development…

Trainings that are badly targeted and ill-adapted will not allow you to reap the benefits you have been hoping for, and can therefore be deemed a loss of time and money. Before suggesting that your employees participate in this or that training, take the time to evaluate needs and select appropriate subjects and approaches.

A well thought-out training and development strategy is a winning one, since it will contribute to developing employees’ potential and furthering your company’s outreach.

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