Win The Skills Game: How To Ensure Your Staff Training Is A Success


Devising and implementing an effective employee training programme is one of the cornerstones of success when it comes to business growth. Training should never be an afterthought, because it has so many positive effects in the workplace, such as improving employee retention, keeping processes and people efficient and profitable, and ensuring the quality and consistency of output is right. Ultimately, good training can benefit your business bottom line – increasing margins and ensuring that customers come back for more.

Training needs to be a holistic approach, with modules for each stage of the process carefully planned. Approach matters like a learning professional and you can have a real impact. So whether you want to improve and standardise processes or upskill your staff, the right approach will help you to get the most from a training investment. Here’s how to make sure you hit the mark:

Plan Your Training The Right Way

A haphazard approach is not going to produce the result you want, and is likely to be a waste of valuable time. So start with a business needs assessment before booking in any coaches. This should start with a review of your business plan and goals – what are your short-term aims for the coming year? Next, perform a kind of gap analysis by taking stock of the current picture. How far away are you from your goal? What are the barriers preventing your company from getting there? These barriers will inform the type of training you need to provide. Link them to your overall business strategy, and set specific KPIs – outcomes that you want to be delivered as a result of the training. Share these with your employees at the start of the training, and then give them a chance to feedback at the end of the session on whether they feel that the training adequately met those needs – especially if using an external training supplier.

Match Training To Specific Roles In Your Business

While hugely worthwhile when done right, training is undoubtedly an upfront consumption of resources, so be very clear about exactly what the business requirements are. Take the time to discover from them what it is about their roles or the systems they use where they feel that they need support. Whether its business-critical certifications such as food handler training certification, broader skills such as customer service and dealing with complaints or even systems-specific areas, you need to scope out the requirements and communicate them clearly to the provider. Many staff members may use the same tools – for example, a CRM system – to perform different functions, so being very specific about what is needed will help your training to achieve its maximum ROI.

Select The Right Format

The range of different channels and methods that can take place these days are vast, so as well as being sure about the content that needs to be delivered, it pays to think about the method of delivery. Training can sometimes be offered in-house by a skilled staff member, or even yourself if you have a small operation, but it can also be delivered by an external supplier – often this route can be useful for a session that requires participants to think openly about their own roles, such as conflict resolution. Make sure enough time is allocated for the session to cover everything, or if there are several levels of expertise at play with your staff, perhaps split the training into a beginner, intermediate and advanced level. If you want to develop existing staff, coaching can be a great way of getting individuals upskilled. While for new employees, induction and job shadowing may be more effective. Courses can be available via distance or e-learning online, or can be delivered at workshops. Whichever channel you decide suits, make sure all employees can access it. This can be a particularly important consideration if you have people working from home, part-time or any disabled employees.

Work With The Supplier

If you have chosen to go with an external supplier, selecting the right one is half the battle. Find a good provider and it can be the start of a productive long-term partnership, so take the time to select the right one. Trade associations and professional bodies are a great place to start if you’re seeking skills that are specific to the industry you operate in. They will understand what current training needs are prevalent in your sector and what skills are going to be needed in the future. They may have approved training suppliers on record, which will save you a search. Or some may even offer their own training courses. This can be especially important if the training is part of a programme of CPD (continued professional development) that your employees will need to retain accreditation. Make sure when you speak to providers that they understand your own objectives and the demands of your sector. Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients who would recommend them? What feedback do they gather to ensure their training is being received in the right way? And what outcomes do they expect to achieve for your investment? What will happen if these targets aren’t met?

Closing The Feedback Loop

After the training has taken place, you will need to evaluate the goals that you put in place before the course and ensure that you can see the positive impact on the business. There are lots of ways to measure success with training, and combining a few usually gives the best overview. Firstly, look at the quantitate results – these are the tangible metrics within your business that show success. It could be sales, output, staff turnover, or productivity – linked to what training took place. But it’s also important to evaluate success qualitatively – using better teamwork, fewer complaints or more innovative processes as your yardsticks. Ask your employees if what they received was relevant to their roles and level of expertise, what will change as a result of what they’ve learned and what they thought of the method of delivery – this can be anonymised for greater clarity. This process should be completed soon after the training to ensure accurate recall.

With a little careful thought beforehand, training can be the best thing your business will ever do. Get it right, and you could be ahead of the competition in no time.

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