Turning The Tables And Asking The Employee: How Do You Really Want To Be Trained?
As a seasoned professional in the training and development field, I have recently come to realise that, while a lot is being said about the importance of training and development from the organization’s side, not much is being said by those at the receiving end.
Yes, aligning training to strategy, selecting the right topics, content and trainers/ qualification bodies is key, but how do you make sure that the training you invest in as a firm is really what will make a difference to the employee and his/her overall performance – which is the ultimate objective?
Both as part of my previous role, as Co-Founder and Managing Partner of a UAE based Training and Development firm, as well as on projects I am currently working on, I have had the opportunity to speak with professionals across the board in terms of seniority, and have found the feedback to be quite interesting:
Annual Training Quotas with One-Size-Fits-All solutions
While almost everyone would love a few days out of the office, in the current (and very demanding and competitive market conditions), unless it’s an impactful and value adding session, many would prefer not to attend. The reason being, most employees feel that when they are sent to trainings, it is done more so to fulfil a annual training quota rather than part of a deliberate plan for them as an individual employee and professional, and this links directly to the next point.
The majority of corporate trainings tend to last anywhere between 3-5 days. And, while it may have been a very interesting and useful activity, what tends to happen when they go back to the office is…nothing. Aside from very skills-specific topics, which also need regular updates (eg. Accounting, Compliance, and a few other, highly technical, functions), most people go back to the office, perhaps implement a few of the new things they learned for a few weeks or even months, but then (due to work load, circumstance and lack of internal continuity) tend to fall back on what they were doing before that. Has the training they attended really developed them? No. Has the training the attended really benefited their function and overall organisation? Most likely, not.
While there is a lot more one can say on this subject (including employee loyalty, internal growth and development within an organization etc.), the above are two key items that, if addressed properly, can largely resolve the rest.
The majority of the feedback and ideas shared during these conversations are not really new. Each organization just needs to work out how to best implement them.
1) Really Feeling Valued
Employees value being asked about their personal growth and development plans, understanding how they individually contribute to the organisation’s success, and how the organization plans for their individual growth within this plan. Using annual/ biannual performance appraisals to mutually agree to these and the implementation plan at both ends is always a great starting point.
2) Making It A Commitment/ Buy-in At Both Ends
When someone feels valued, has a clear view of what they mean to their organization and what their opportunities are to grow internally within set timeframes, one is willing to commit and take responsibility for the time and investment made to train them. From the organisation’s side, it commits to finance and then continue to support, implement and deliver on the growth it has promised. For the employee, this means being fully engaged and making sure what he/she learns is implemented, supports the company and his role and growth; if he/she decides to leave earlier than the agreed timeframe set from the start, then they are required to refund a part of the training cost that was made by the company. We need to bear in mind, this concept is not new; variations of this are already implemented successfully by a number of multinational firms, especially those with clear progression plans. (eg. Partner Status).
3) Looking for programs that are provided – or officially supported – by reputable institutions
There seems to be a shift in the training paradigm with more and more professionals preferring programs that span over longer periods of time (from 3 weeks with intervals, to 6 or even 12 months) and are delivered by international and reputable universities and institutions. While this may seem as a substantially larger investment, in reality it is actually more cost effective, especially for those employees an organization really wants to invest in.
- Continuity – most of these sessions offer continuity; be it through sessions at regular intervals (with specific deliverables that are related to the attendee’s actual role), coaching or both and thus ensure direct and immediate results.
- Commitment – the cost and time required by all involved makes this a mutually agreed commitment by all parties from the beginning.
- Value –The company has employees who are being developed to grow, remain loyal and become part of the succession plan; for the employee, this clearly demonstrates the company’s commitment and intention for development and growth and, should things not work out as expected with this organization, he/she will still have a bankable qualification for future career pursuits.
In short, training for the sake of training is not an effective use of time and resources. Getting employees more engaged in the process and making sure your organization’s strategy becomes their own, will bring you closer to having an efficient, qualified, team which will work with you towards achieving mutually beneficial goals and objectives.
Regional Lead EMEA