Good employees motivate themselves, and good companies set the stage so that motivation flourishes.
One great way to keep people engaged and motivated is through solid training and development programs. Good employees want to continue, and T&D keeps them engaged.
Most seasoned HR professionals are experienced in common training and development mistakes. But some mistakes can still slip past.
Here’s a look at five common shortcomings when developing training programs. Get these right, and you can boost engagement and improve retention.
You probably get a constant stream of requests for new training programs and courses as managers work to keep their teams up to speed on the latest business challenges and procedures.
It can be tempting to dive right in and build new offerings based on those requests without doing some extra work to make sure they are the best place to place your limited investment resources.
It’s important to be sure of the return on those investments if you expect to get approval and funding for other critical training and development programs.
It pays to understand how your people are working now, what’s changing in those jobs, and how urgent new training really is compared to other priorities.
By putting together a survey, and talking with employees, you’ll see and hear what’s truly needed before you invest time and money in developing a new training program.
It’s always the basics. Failing to plan is planning to fail
It can be tempting to trust in a trainer’s experience and expertise and let them set the agenda and create the curriculum.
But even experienced subject matter experts can be overconfident. They may think they can be effective trainers without a rock-solid plan and an understanding of how it fits into the bigger picture.
In reality, they’ll need your input to be sure they are on track.
Workforce training and development is a strategic necessity for every organization, and it will determine whether you can attract, hold onto and keep improving top-notch employees.
You’re never really investing in a T&D “program” you’re investing in each and every individual you’re training.
Everyone learns differently, and at a different pace. Even employees doing the same job often understand what they do, and why, in vastly different ways.
They all come into your training with different experience levels, strengths and training gaps.
It’s unrealistic to think everyone will learn everything evenly.
Be clear about what is most important to you, why it’s important and how success will be measured.
Recognizing the different learning styles and where employees have specific learning strengths and challenges will help you to design flexibility into your program and improve outcomes.
It seems to make sense: pull someone off the front line and get them passing along their knowledge to new or less experienced employees.
But training is a learned skill, just like anything else. And you definitely don’t want someone at the front of the virtual or real world meeting room who doesn’t want to be there.
They might resent being pulled off the job, which can impact quotas, commissions, or tips. They might just be a little too cynical. Or, ideally, they are just nervous and need to be eased into the role after some training of their own
Most effective employees can become good or even great trainers if they don’t have a lousy experience up front. So use an“on-boarding” process similar to how you’d bring on any new employee.
Understanding how to apply different training methods and learning styles, getting comfortable with the tech they’ll use training to groups of varying sizes, and shadowing your top trainers to see how it’s done “hands on” are all important to getting comfortable with the role.
And, if at all possible, give them a chance to practice on a “friendly audience” that is clearly rooting for them to succeed.
That way, when they hit the stage for real, they can handle the butterflies, won’t feel like they need to apologize for being new to training and won’t want to lean on a guest subject matter expert to make the audience feel the time they’re investing is worth it.
When your trainers are confident, enthusiastic, well prepared and clearly happy to be sharing their knowledge, your workforce will learn more quickly, ask smart questions and retain what they’ve learned.
Watch as they get back on the job and share their new knowledge with co-workers.
T&D is a major investment for almost every organization – U.S. companies spent $87.6 billion on training initiatives in 2018, as measured by Training magazine’s Training Industry Report.
Research indicates that the return on training investment ranges from marginal to most impactful. In a study cited on the Southern New Hampshire University website, companies reported ROI (net monetary benefits of training/total costs of training * 100) ranging from 40% to well over 300%. Of course your mileage will vary, but these are the types of results your leadership will be looking for.
Even if your organization reliably funds the T&D program, there’s never a guarantee that will continue as new strategic opportunities and challenges arise.
Keep your CFO informed about your current programs, your plans and your results and you’ll be able to play a role in identifying and supporting those strategic priorities and keep the investment coming.