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Training— a vital investment

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It is tempting to put off staff training indefinitely, waiting until there is more time or more money.

Opinion by Paul Nyausaru

But to succeed, your employees’ skill sets must be complete and up-to-date. Employee development is one of the most important investments you can make in your business.

So when you do take on a training effort, you’ll want to be sure you’re spending your money wisely. It’s, therefore, best to create an overall training strategy to steer your plans for staff development.

Before we go any further, let us start by defining what a training strategy is.

Training and development in an organisation requires implementation to achieve success.

Therefore, the strategy will require vision, focus, direction and an action-planning document.

A training strategy is a mechanism that establishes what competencies an organisation requires in the future and a means to achieve it.

Many points can be put forward in favour of why an organisation needs a training strategy.

The most compelling though rests in the results of a recent study of 3 000 companies done by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

They found that 10% of revenue spent on capital improvements boosts productivity by 3,9%, revenue spent on developing human capital increased productivity by 8,5%.

Remember that anything worth achieving is worth planning for!
The most successful and profitable approach has been to:

Identify the customer’s training needs in terms of their organisational strategic plan, human resource strategic plan, personal development plans and focus on comprehensive interviews or focus groups.

Analyse your needs — Taking time to analyse your organisation’s needs when designing your training plan will help you choose the right type of training for your requirements.

Identify skill gaps — This can be done by looking at the written job description (make sure you have one) and comparing the skills the position requires with your employees’ current abilities.
Understanding where there may be gaps will help you identify the types of training you need.

Prioritise — Assign the training you’d like to provide into categories. Ask yourself the following questions: Is it mandatory, or nice-to-have?

If it’s absolutely required, a training effort becomes imperative. If it reflects an ideal situation that isn’t immediately feasible, you’ll know to plan for it in the longer term.

Once you have assessed and prioritised the need for training, the next step is to secure what type of training you will use and how you will offer it. There are several factors to consider such as the following:

Types of training available
Internal resources: Ask yourself what resources you have in-house.  Seasoned employees may be perfect to take on coaching or mentoring roles. They are also inexpensive to provide, these are among the most effective types of training.

External resources: Formal seminars, conferences, private trainers and videos are all good methods for learning. These tools are more expensive, but are professionally developed and often yield good results.

Delivery options
One-on-one vs group sessions, e-learning vs in-person instruction, on-site or off-site?

These questions will be answered by a blend of factors such as: What’s available? What best suits your needs? What you can afford?

Your budget
It’s important to balance your need to save with the long-term benefit of developing staff. Try to determine the best type of training available for the amount you have to spend.

After all has been done, do not forget to secure management and staff commitment.

Before you can execute a training programme, you need to have agreement from the senior person in your company that training is a priority. This person will need to support the plan fully and agree to milestones, costs, dates and deliverables.

Employee commitment is also required. Talk to your staff about the goals for the training and why it’s important to the business that they undertake the learning effort.

Most often, employees will respond favourably to your investment in their development.

Today’s employees look beyond their paycheques; they value and embrace opportunities to learn new skills.

Paul Nyausaru is a Human Resources Practitioner. He can be contacted on  nyausaru@yahoo.co.uk or pnyausaru@gmail.com

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