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12 Ways to Make Your Training Program a Hit


Last updated 7/11/2014

It's human nature to want to learn and develop...so why do so many employees avoid training programs like the plague? Here are 12 ways you can do to get your employees excited about training.

1. Communicate the importance of learning.
Management should communicate to employees that their organization is a learning center. Providing resources and encouragement for employees to continually upgrade their skills will help attract and retain a dedicated work force.

2. Show them the money.
Establish a personnel development fund that gives each employee a set amount of money each year (e.g., $250) that can be used for any job-related learning activity, such as professional meetings, books, or videos. Also, provide tuition reimbursement to enable employees to take college courses in their field.

3. Provide opportunities to visit customers.
Face time with customers will help employees gain a better understanding of their needs.

4. Institute a job rotation program.
Develop a system whereby employees rotate between jobs. This will help upgrade their skills and give them a better understanding of the relationships among different jobs within the organization.

5. Institute a shadowing program.
A program in which employees are given the opportunity to closely observe other workers will allow them to understand and appreciate other jobs throughout the organization.

6. Provide a resource center.
Establish a center and stock it with job-related books, technical manuals, industry periodicals, and training videos. Allow employees to visit the center on company time.

7. Systematically assess training needs.
The job skills required to be successful are constantly evolving because of changes in technology and customer needs. Carefully conducted "training needs assessments" will identify gaps in employee skills. The organization can then focus on what type of training employees really need.

8. Evaluate training programs.
Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of training programs are ever systematically evaluated. To do so requires iIdentifying the objectives of the training program, establishing a baseline measure prior to the training
and comparing the before and after results.

If, for example, your objective is to increase customer satisfaction by improving the telephone skills of your staff, only by comparing the before and after customer satisfaction results will it become clear whether the effort was successful. Without such studies, senior management often feels that they are just wasting their money on training. An evaluation study offers proof one way or the other.

The importance of evaluating training programs was brought home to me while consulting to a financial services company. This company spent millions of dollars developing informational materials for meetings in which its financial experts taught employees at other companies how to save for retirement using the 401(k) plan managed by the company. The goal of the workshop was to give employees information that would help them feel comfortable enrolling in the retirement program. The company needed to know whether employees were learning anything and whether the program was increasing the likelihood that they would rollover their retirement savings into the program. By having the employees answer questions both before and after the enrollment meetings about their knowledge of such financial concepts as compound interest and before-tax savings, the company was able to improve the usefulness of the meetings.

9. Invest in training during down periods.
Managers should change their mindset from considering training as an expense to viewing it as an important investment. Training budgets are often the first to be cut during challenging economic times, but it actually makes more sense to focus on training during a lull in business. When business is slow, employees are more able to take time from their work to attend training sessions.

10. Encourage employees to be honest about their needs.
Employees have a tendency to say they don't need training even if they know they really do. Employees need to take responsibility to say to their supervisors, "I need training and here's why."

11. Use methods other than classroom instruction.
Traditional classroom instruction is often not the best way to teach job skills. Hands-on or computer-assisted instruction, Web-based training, and audio or video training are some of the many techniques that enable individuals to work at their own pace and learn more efficiently than they would in a classroom setting.

12. Make certain that supervisors support the transfer of training.
Very often supervisors discourage and even chastise employees for using the new skills that they were taught in training programs. In that case, it's no wonder that those skills are not used. Supervisors must remain open to the idea that employees can change and grow.

Employees sincerely want to perform their jobs well and want to make certain they maintain marketable skills. They resent management for not providing them with the training they need. Employers need to view training programs as an investment rather than an expense.

Adapted with permission of the publisher from 30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers by Bruce L. Katcher with Adam Snyder. Copyright 2007, Bruce L. Katcher. Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association. For information about other AMACOM books, visit http://www.amanet.org/books/

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