How to Ensure Training is Effective and Develops Employee Talent
Identify three key aspects that you need to make sure your training is effective and how you can use digital technologies for the purpose.
Employee Talent has a direct bearing on achieving business goals. After all, if your employees do not have the necessary skills or knowledge, they will be unable to accomplish tasks essential for business growth. Therefore, training employees and making the best of the talent pool within the organization becomes a top priority. In order to achieve this goal, you will have to first understand:
- Your organization’s business goals
- The skills or knowledge to achieve those goals
- Where your employees stand, in terms of those skills or knowledge
- If employees’ talents and skills are aligned with their job roles
- If training can bridge the talent gap by upskilling employees
Assuming that you have already done the above and identified the knowledge and skills that your target group of employees need to possess, you will now have to assess if you will develop your inhouse talent or recruit fresh talent from outside.
If existing employees can be trained on the new skills or knowledge, it is the best option as they are already in the system and can move on to deliver results faster than a new recruit, who needs time to settle down. Moreover, employees feel valued for being given higher responsibilities and opportunities to grow – a great driver for employee retention.
In order to train your employees, you will need to develop a training strategy that succeeds in developing employee talent and ultimately succeeds in achieving business goals. There are three main aspects that I would like to share here that might help you create an effective training program that truly stands by employees in developing their talent – knowledge and skills.
Blended Training Strategy:
A one-time training program spanning a couple of days may not really succeed in making employees experts in a particular domain. A classroom training may provide a good start to the learning, but needs to be followed up with successive training reinforcement strategies. Therefore, a blended learning or hybrid training strategy will be a good option. What it entails is that you combine classroom delivery with digital delivery methods to make learning stick. It also allows you to be creative and innovative with the training delivery.
For example, you can actually get employees to complete a short assessment or survey to test their current knowledge or let them know their current understanding before they come to the classroom training. You can also give them a small activity that is directly aligned with the learning objective of the course so that it builds interest and generate enthusiasm about the session. Or, you can get employees to brush up their knowledge on the basics through a short e-learning module, to be taken before attending the instructor-led training. As a result, in the classroom interaction the instructor can delve into the subject in greater depth, have time to touch upon complex aspects and discuss practical implications of the knowledge. This allows more time for sharing and interaction with the subject matter expert/trainer and peers.
Continuous Learning Option:
Knowledge and skills get honed with time. Instead of leaving it to the individuals to hone their skills, it helps to provide continuous support to employees – particularly when they are applying the knowledge. For example, let’s say you have given a wonderful safety training to your employees; they are now well-versed with safety procedures to follow at work during different situations and circumstances.
However, there are some situations or circumstances that employees rarely encounter. When you don’t use a specific knowledge, it tends to skip to that remote corner of the brain and be forgotten. So, there are two ways to go about it. One, you can create scenarios and case studies and get employees to review them and prompt them of the best practices on a periodic basis. It need not be a long, cumbersome e-learning module, but a short and crisp 5 min bite-sized learning module that would have least resistance. Two, you can have these resources ready and hosted on your Learning Management System (LMS) – ready for employees to access when a need arises.
This way, access to learning is continuous and equips employees to access knowledge at the time of need.
A new employee might join an organization at any level – at an entry level, middle management level or can be part of C-suite. Individuals within a department – say sales or finance have different roles and their need to develop mastery on subject will also vary. Training will need to be aligned to their roles. For example, a CFO will need to know about the products that their organization is selling, their prices, discounts application, profit margin, etc., That person does not really need in-depth understanding of how the product functions or the sales pitch that is relevant to a sales person. The training content should confine to what is required for the person. There might be some training programs that are common to all, such as data privacy, code of conduct, HR policies and perhaps don’t require customization as per an individual’s role.
However, there would be other training programs that demand varying knowledge levels from employees. For example, a sales or service engineer needs to know about a company’s products in and out. Even between them, a sales person will need to know in the context of making a sale and a service engineer will need to know in the context of servicing the product. Though both require product training, the focus on the content varies based on their roles. Same is true with training provided on operating a software system or an LMS. The way an administrator or manager uses the LMS is different from an employee (as a learner) accesses the system. Training will need to be aligned based on their roles.
This can be easily done in a classroom situation. Explain based on the audience. However, people tend to create a generic course when developing e-learning course, which may not be very effective. Instead, you can design courses through branching scenarios for courses, such as product training, software training or other training programs, where knowledge levels required may vary from person to person. You could also consider developing micro-learning modules that cater to a single learning objective or a particular job function. Though designing such courses involves a deeper instructional and learning design strategy, it is more effective and helps employees acquire right knowledge that is directly applicable to a job situation. Naturally, it helps in enriching their talent and thereby help them do their jobs well and contribute to business goals.
The effort and time taken to develop and deploy training programs will be justified if they are aligned to the organization’s business goals and enable employees to hone their talents and work towards achieving those business goals. A combination of well-thought out training strategy and digital technologies will enable you to create the environment that makes this happen. These suggestions, by no means, are comprehensive and there are others that might work best for you. What are the strategies that you adopt to make training effective in honing employee talent? Can you share them here?