• Eric

Training: What’s the Problem? (a two part series)

In part one, we looked at some of the challenges to implementing effective training and employee competency management. Now, we'll consider efficiency, practical tools and ways to use modern learning management systems.

An Examination of Training Hours

Let’s do some simple math on a conservative hypothetical example. An organization with 50 employees and 10 operational procedures could reasonably expect to dedicate 500 hours a year to training. That’s nearly 25% of one employee’s annual productivity.

With this much time dedicated to employee development, organizations of all sizes should have a carefully planned employee proficiency management plan.

While the original point of discussion was to address root causes, we should recognize this is a sophisticated problem with many influences. To effectively address root cause issues with employee training, an efficient and repeatable method of employee skill and knowledge verification is required. That means having a training plan, and consistent execution of that plan.

What’s your organization’s training improvement plan?

Don’t worry if you can’t immediately provide a list of improvements. We’ll examine potential solutions next - let’s look at some practical ways to overcome employee training challenges.

Spend Less, Not More.

Successful training doesn’t require millions of dollars. It requires more effective methods. What organizations will need to invest in is time. Specifically, you’ll need to focus on the implementation, repetition, and assessment of what your employees have learned after the initial training session. Without this reiteration, your training won’t work.

Let Your Data Guide You

Training should pinpoint performance and procedural weaknesses within an organization. This is particularly the case with heavily regulated industries. Instead of providing general information or basing your training on qualitative judgments, focus on the data your organization has collected. Non-conformance management feedback is essential.

Optimize Your Content for a Modern Audience That’s Accustomed to the Pace of Digital Media

It’s hard to truth to face for most organizations: Your current training materials probably aren’t as engaging or well-researched as you think. Address this head-on and revise your content. Your employees are not going to be engaged by dry, technical content with long, extraneous paragraphs. Keep it simple and to the point. Use headlines, bullet points, and infographics to break up the text.

Remove any subject matter that could be interpreted as a non-sequitur lesson. Stick to a central theme for each training and cut down each lesson so that it doesn’t exceed 15 minutes. You’ll also want to leave room for a question-and-answer session after each lesson.

Use On-The-Job Training to Supplement What’s Taught in Training Sessions

It’s not ideal, but it’s common for organizations to substitute on-the-job training for internal and external training sessions. In practice, it’s best used to supplement what was learned in those internal and external training sessions. Give your employees the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned on the job rather than throw them into tasks without training. Schedule on-the-job training opportunities to bolster training sessions. 

Make Sure All Employees Have Access to Training

What if you only host training sessions during certain periods, or shift-workers can’t attend an unpaid session?

This limited access benefits only some of your staff and represents a significant missed opportunity for many others. By limiting training, you’re limiting its potential and risking your organization’s reputation. Open training to everyone and ensure it’s a paid opportunity for all employees. If there’s an unavoidable scheduling conflict, publish digital copies of the training sessions.

Keep Training Consistent

Once-a-year training without performance evaluations and follow-up sessions simply aren’t enough. Develop consistent methods of measuring employee proficiency and schedule follow-up training based on non-conformance data, standard operating procedures, and employee performance evaluations.

External Trainers Work for Your Organization, Not the Other Way Around

Resist the temptation to accommodate an external trainer’s travel needs. Find an educator whose schedule and expertise matches up with your organization’s needs. Your goal is to provide training access to all of your employees, not to appease an educator.

It’s also important that whomever you choose understands the importance of value-based training programs. The content of your training sessions should be based on your organization’s internal performance data, not the educator’s boilerplate performance recommendations.

Automate Training Development with SaaS Software

The perception is that training is time-consuming, difficult to coordinate, and generally unsuccessful. It doesn’t have to be.

Effective training increases corrective action success while reducing organizational training costs. There a several good options for Learning Management Systems. Some software integrates learning management with other continuous improvement management. QMSC's cloud-based system is one such platform which will help you create training plans based on employee performance evaluations, proficiency plans, non-conformance data, and standard operating procedures.

To summarize: keep it simple, make it practical.

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© 2018 by Quality Management System & Consulting.