Norma Anthony and her supervisors were faced with a common challenge for small companies: finding and scheduling good training for employees. Then they found an uncommon solution.
When we recruit people, we sell them on the idea that our company believes in continual learning and improvement – meaning we support training as a way to reach career goals.
The problem with that: Our supervisors and HR were always
challenged to come up with new and different training employees could attend offsite and onsite.
Plus, of course, the training had to be relevant to the goals of the employee and the company. Keeping on top of that was almost a full-time job in itself, and we couldn’t
afford a training coordinator to do it.
Our solution: Make employees their own training coordinators – but it took some work.
The cornerstone of the solution was to have employees find and choose their own training. No one really knew for certain whether employees would like the idea – many were skeptical or didn’t want the responsibility – or whether it would work.
- So we tried it for about a year on an experimental basis with a few employees. We told them they could choose their own training, but approval would be based on two major stipulations:
- The employee had to show the connection between the proposed training and their jobs and careers.
Cost would be a factor in approval. The more expensive the training, the greater the benefit the employee
would have to show – to the company and the job.
We rolled out the program and held our breath, waiting to see what would happen.
One of our first successes was a customer service employee – let’s call her “Jane” – who told her boss she was interested in the quality-control end of our business, and asked for training in that area.
Jane picked out her training, got the OK, and ended up moving into quality control and being a top performer.
We used that success story as a template to show others how the program might work for them. And an interesting thing happened.
Not all employees embraced the idea – some still wanted the
supervisor to pick the training. But we found that the ones who did take control of their training often also happened to be our most motivated, top performers.
In other words, the top people used the program to get better or to help themselves advance with the company. That assured us the program was working.
(Norma Anthony, Medford, NJ)