Training why should we have to have it?
Author: Gina O’Connor
For some businesses, all they hear is you’ve got to be trained on this you’ve got to be trained on that, and it becomes a never-ending cycle. It causes interruptions to the operation. You’re losing people, meaning that you have to bring in somebody else to cover that person while they’re training. It’s costing money and when you think about it that way it does cost you money and lost working hours. And at the end of it all what is the point? The staff will come back and just carry on as normal and there’s no change in how we do things. Waste of time. Waste of money.
Of course, there’s one aspect that we can’t escape and that’s the law. There are so many functions that employers and employees must be trained on. Why? Because the law says so and failure to comply can and does have repercussions. Whether we like it or not the law is there to ensure both employers and employees live up to their obligations in the workplace. The primary concern of the law is safety. Everybody should be able to leave work and go home the same way they came in. With or without the law this should be every conscientious employer’s main concern – their people.
But let’s leave the law out of it for now. Let’s assume for now most people are aware of what the law requires us to do. So, let’s look at training another way and what can it achieve. Good training gets people to learn. You might ask what’s the difference? Well, here’s my take on that. Training just like the traditional classroom setting got us to remember things like a list and I’ll ask anyone that had this experience what really happened apart from being able to list things off? When people learn it becomes a part of them. Whether the learners develop a skill that they can demonstrate or improve their customer service skills, learning should be about solving a problem. Of course, this means different things to different people.
One of the basic questions people should ask is why do we need the training? Looking deeper into that question, what’s the problem that needs to be looked and what kind of an impact are you looking for? The needs of your business need to be brought down to the outcome you need to achieve in learning and basically ask what change in knowledge or skills do you need to see to have an impact on solving this problem. Another question you would need to ask is who is this for? In other words who’s your audience? If they’re your employees for example you need to look at where they are now and where you need to get them to. In other words, find out what the learning gap is. It’s also important to bear in mind what your employees’ perception of training is and why. Do they love it, do they hate it? There can be a variety of reasons for these perceptions. Did they feel supported during and after the learning process in the past?
If you as an employer need to change things around in your business (and there has been plenty of that recently), how do you get your people to change with the business? Do you just tell them changes are being made and expect them to just go with the flow? How is that working for you? Did it take you long to make the changes you needed to make? Was there much resistance? For me, training is like having a meaningful conversation. You think about what you need to achieve. You outline the reasons for the need to change and decide how it’s going to take to effect. Remember, a conversation is a two-way street, just like good training. Asking questions like what are the important areas (or topics) will you need to cover to achieve this change? Another question that needs to be considered is, HOW? How will you do this, in the classroom or online? How much? How long will it really take? These are all questions you need to think about.
One thing I’m certain of is, it won’t matter. It won’t matter if you don’t follow up after the training delivery. I’m sorry to burst your bubble but, if you don’t support your people after the training to reinforce the learning then you have just wasted a lot of money. No return on your investment. Training is for a day, a week, or however long it takes for the material to be delivered. Learning on the other hand is about practicing that learning until it switches to auto-pilot. Let me ask you, does a musician learn a chord and then say ok, I’ve got it now? No, they practice that chord until they don’t have to think about how they place their fingers on the strings. They also have support from their tutor or mentor. It is no different in any workplace. Miracles don’t happen after a day’s training but significant improvements can be made to improve on the knowledge skills and attitude with encouragement and the employee made to feel they have back up while they make the transition. This support is what brings loyalty and belief that they feel invested in and that you want them to succeed.
As an employer ask yourself these questions:
WHY – are you doing this? Figure out the reason
WHO – is it for? Are you filling a gap to meet an objective?
HOW – will you do this?
About the author: Gina has a wealth of training experience and operations management acumen accrued during a career spanning over 25 years in roles such as administration, customer service management, and training in the heavily regulated aviation industry. She believes that learning should not be a ‘tick the box’ exercise for people. She is experienced in knowing the importance of ensuring companies become & remain compliant in accordance with national legislation as well as industry best practice.
She can identify with other small businesses as she is a local independent operator, who wants to look after local businesses also. She understands the challenges of keeping compliant while trying to operate a business. With her aviation background, she understands CRM and change management and the importance of training to bring about that effect.
As a member of the Irish Institute of Training and Development and NISO, Gina believes in keeping in line with best practices and the latest developments in the training sector.