What is the training strategy of your company?
What’s that? Is there no strategy? How many of you think your company has no comprehensive or even departmental training strategy? At least, none of which you are aware.
This is a huge missed opportunity. Let’s talk about what a company training strategy could look like.
I’m hearing about more and more companies that have a Learning and Development Director position (or similar). There is a recognition that adding learning and development initiatives as an afterthought is not working. We need to make it a strategic initiative. But still, why?
As a company manager or executive, I need to make sure that my employees have the ability to meet the ever-changing needs of my industry. Being aware of and understanding new technologies, new methodologies, new relevant information of any kind, is going to make my company more able to adapt to the future of my business. As a company executive, I am determining (or at least aware of) the direction that my company will go. To lead successfully, I need to include my employees in the journey by listening to them and by encouraging them to proceed in the same direction.
As a company employee, I am unlikely to devote my free time to learning what will benefit my company without any incentive. The fact that we can search the internet to gain basic understanding of certain topics, does not mean that it is sufficient. Should I join an organization locally or internationally to help give me direction? Do I have a process for requesting training funding? Must I use my vacation days to learn new things to benefit my company? Are training opportunities fairly offered?
One gap in this whole topic is the expectation of what happens after training. I talk to many employees who return to work excited to apply what they learned but are unable to because of a lack of support from management, a lack of similar training given to other employees or just a terribly busy workday.
So, how does the future look? These are my predictions of company evolution in this regard.
Each company will have a department that will assess each employee (not just management) for gaps in their knowledge that can be filled by training (internal or external). This department will have a process for recommending learning opportunities and a process for employees to apply for learning opportunities. These decisions will include the employee’s chain of command so the path can be opened and to make sure the needs assessment includes all relevant information.
Employees will be encouraged to embrace their challenges and look for improvement potential, not as a punishment, but as a reward. An employee weakness should result in an improvement plan.
Trickle-down education plans will be eliminated. Sending one manager to a training and expecting that the rest of the team will somehow “pick up” what they need is not a strategy. It is a recipe for failure.
Memberships to relevant organizations will be open to all employees. Having a network of learning will become a requirement for most employees. Mentoring opportunities will become common place. The days of a performance review where employees are told to “fix” a problem with no suggested process for resolution are over.
John Melbye, President, APICS Twin Cities, apicstc.org