The employee training process is the bread and butter of every training professional. In a sense, you can say that this process is the sheer justification of every training team and their relevance to any business.
There are different versions of the training and development process. Even so, all iterations would involve the same critical phases: data gathering, analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation.
While these steps have been rigorously studied and defined by experts, there are still ways on how to make this process of employee training simpler and even more effective.
Having said that, here are five ways to simplify your employee training process:
1. Be a strategic partner
The most important aspect of simplifying your employee training process is positioning your team as a strategic partner. Not only will this make work easier for you and the entire team, but it will open more opportunities for collaboration with other departments as well.
Strategic partnerships allow collaborative work with other teams in terms of implementing high-impact initiatives. For example, calibration with recruitment folks regarding hiring profiles help lower fallout rate, increase ROI, and accelerate speed to competency.
A strategic partnership with operations helps lessen the effort in data gathering and makes course content more accurate and relevant.
A strategic partnership with key stakeholders also makes for a more seamless strategic training and development process.
Getting buy-in would be easier and implementation more manageable. Better yet, instead of just getting initiatives for approval, make key stakeholders part of the project team. Make them strategic partners who can champion your training programs.
Partnering strategically doesn’t happen overnight though. It takes a lot of work and requires a proven track record of delivering results.
More importantly, becoming a strategic business partner necessitates the understanding of both the finer details and the bigger picture of the business – and determining exactly where the employee training process fits in.
2. Spend some time in the trenches
Most of the time, training professionals get too caught up in the analysis. There is that tendency to dwell too much on data, and this can bring about the dreaded ‘Analysis Paralysis’ phenomena.
As important numbers may be, we all know too well that the entire story isn’t represented by statistics alone. Taking some time to get to know your learners can avoid this analysis pitfall and give you better insight on the real issues that need addressing
To make your staff training process – particularly needs analysis – more effective, spend some time at ground zero. Have a talk with the learners. Find out what the most common issues in the workplace are. Get a feel of what and where the real ‘pains’ are and observe firsthand the root causes behind them.
Spending some time in the trenches paints an accurate picture of the actual situation of the learners. And this context, in turn, can be the foundation of your employee training process.
Getting valuable airtime with the learners can tell you more than well-crafted, fifty-item, employee surveys. You’ll actually be amazed at how much insight spending a few minutes with your learners can give you!
3. Focus training activities only on key drivers
Sadly, the term ‘Death by Training,’ is such an infamous expression present in almost all industries. It simply means that workforce development training has been overdone. And instead of employees perceiving training as a solution or opportunity for development, it has rather become an overbearing chore.
This is usually the result of employing training initiatives for almost every skill gap or performance issue that comes along.
Training professionals need to consistently maintain the employee training and development process and come up with new material based on emerging needs. There is, however, such a thing as overdoing it.
You’ll know that this is the case when the team starts implementing programs that aren’t targeting any specific key business metrics.
It might be good experience designing new courses that are a little different from the usual topics from time to time. Despite that, this practice might be more detrimental than beneficial.
If this happens to be the case, the team might be running programs for nice-to-have (and non-impacting, non-critical) competencies rather than becoming more proficient in developing the ones that do matter.
The best way to simplify and reinforce your employee training process is to continually work on and improve what you already have. And with that said, you just need to prioritize one thing – ensure all training endeavors are grounded on competencies critical to the business.
Have the team master your own training and development process by focusing only on the metric-critical competencies of your organization. Training non-impacting skills and knowledge can be outsourced to vendors or consultants who may have more experience and expertise on the subject matter.
4. Employ online training as much as appropriately possible
Technology can also be a big player in the drive to simplify your employee training process. It’s true that online training isn’t applicable and isn’t the most effective approach in all cases. Nevertheless, you need to heavily capitalize on the situations that will allow you to do so.
Utilizing online learning can simplify the process of training and development in two ways. First, is through its benefits: accessibility, ease of deployment across different time zones and geographical locations, and consistency in content delivery.
The second, and best part, of using technology is that some steps in training and development process get automated. Training implementation will require less effort.
Synchronous sessions can be recorded and reviewed by those who missed the sessions. Asynchronous courses, on the other hand, can be taken anytime, anywhere. Data gathering and course/learner evaluations are a cinch with online testing platforms.
5. Create a ‘learning lab’ environment
At the end of the day, any employee training process has one thing to worry about – providing substantial results. Given this, training evaluation is one of the most important, yet most overlooked part of the entire process.
For example, reactionary and learner assessments can easily be measured during or exactly right after a learning session. The big challenge is what happens right after.
Evaluating the application of learned skills and how they impact business performance require consistent follow through on the part of the training team. This part is where most of the interest drops off as this involves getting data weeks (or even months) after the initial session. A lot of following up is needed in order to get this done.
There is a way on how to make this easier, simpler, and more effective for everyone. And that is through the creation of a learning lab. A learning lab is a part of the process of employee training where a learner is allowed to apply the newly-learned skills under a training environment for a certain period of time.
During the learning lab period, the learner is already doing his or her work responsibilities. However, the big difference is that all support like coaching, mentoring, shadowing, and the like would be available as if the learner is still in training.
Learning lab doesn’t only provide the learner the needed support in order to reinforce what was learned. It also assures a smooth transition into daily operations – ensuring that the learner is well-equipped to succeed.
The entire employee training process consists of tried and tested steps that have served as the training professional’s primer for the longest time. This doesn’t mean though that there aren’t any other ways on how to make the process more seamless and less demanding.
Based on our examples, there are still some strategies that you can put into practice in order to make life easier for you and your team. Of course, these will initially require some heavy lifting.
The only question that remains is if you are willing to take the time and effort now in order to prepare for a more streamlined training process in the future.