Investing In Training


When your team is short on skills you are the one who it ends up costing – literally, since low skill levels put a cap on how productive your business is, and that goes straight to the bottom line. For this reason many SMEs are considering how to improve the skills levels of their team within a reasonable budget. Here are some ideas on how to get started on developing a training programme for your business.

Determine the training needs of your business

Managers and supervisors should identify the skills needed by each team member to perform his or her duties. These skills should be related to the overall strategies of the business to see where skill levels need to be improved or entirely new competencies added. You then have a list of direct links between the objectives of the business and the skills required to achieve them. Gaps in this list need to be filled.

Set the programme’s objectives

Your training programme will most likely have a variety of objectives. Some will be to correct skills shortages that have been identified. Others can be related to optimising the abilities of individual team members so they perform their tasks more proficiently. Programme outcomes should be specific and measurable. Goals should be understood by managers, supervisors and the people selected for training themselves.

Select the right people to be trained

You need to assess whether the people you have in mind for training are actually likely to be able to make the step up. If your assessment is that it is unlikely they will be capable of this, then save yourself a lot of trouble and money and select somebody who will be. It would also be pointless to train someone who had already undergone training in the same tasks unless retraining is required for a specific reason.

Choose the person to do the training

Because the success of training depends to such a great degree on the person doing it, your trainer should be knowledgeable and well qualified. Not everyone makes a good trainer, even people who know the job or process perfectly may not have the skills to pass the knowledge on successfully. Being able to train is a skill in itself and it’s often best to go outside your business to a professional instructor for this function.

Create a good learning environment

A training environment should permit the training to be carried on without interruption, and not interfere with any aspect of the training process. It may be necessary to conduct the training away from your business premises in a location such as a hotel or club conference room. Be sure the instructor has all the tools needed for the training session.

Develop the programme content

You know what the trainee needs to learn, who will do the training and where it will take place. Next you have to compile the elements of the training programme. There’s a wealth of pre-written training materials available from educational suppliers and specialist providers. You might find it easy to obtain high quality resources that meet your training requirements without needing to reinvent the wheel – especially since the development of training materials is likely to be the most costly part of the exercise. You can even consider supporting your employees sign up for courses offered by training organisations.

Implement a training evaluation system

It is important that you are able to determine the success or otherwise of your training programme by comparing the outcomes against the goals you started with. Evaluations at the conclusion of training, and subsequently, of trainees by their supervisors and managers should be made so you can assess if the training has led to improved performance and an increase in skills.

The training process should not be undertaken lightly – your training programme must be well structured if people are to take it seriously and commit to benefiting from it.

Until next week,
Mike Reddy