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Ensuring maximum returns from organisational training

While failure to train may equate to training to fail, it is the implementation of organisational training where the true value and return on investment in skills development is achieved.

In part 1 of this series – titled Training and its contribution to operational effectiveness during COVID-19 – we explored the essential role of workplace training in business recovery from external shocks. It serves as a warning against excessive cuts to training budgets as a knee-jerk response to the pandemic and any future downturns.

The next step is the implementation of training, which will determine its ultimate success – or failure – in upskilling the workforce to respond to adverse market conditions.

Key principles

For training to be effective, it must adhere to a few core principles:

  • People must be interested and willing to learn before they will accept training.
  • Operational objectives, time constraints and performance standards should be known beforehand by both those responsible for and involved in the training.
  • Training must be – and be seen to be – geared to the individual needs of those undertaking it.
  • It must be conducted by a supervisor or agency acting with a pattern fully understood and approved by management.
  • The rate of training should equal the rate at which an individual can learn; this should be confirmed by testing.
  • The best method of new skill acquisition comes from personally doing work to accepted standards under skilled guidance.
  • Training should be planned, executed and evaluated systematically.

Fundamentally, all staff have a right to expect adequate training before being held responsible for their work.

Policy preparedness

The purpose of a training policy is to provide a clear overview to all staff of what training requirements are needed to perform various job functions, how and when it will be needed, and the required standards to be achieved.

This policy should be known by all personnel, and for which responsibility is assigned for its implementation and continuing review. Without it, the success (or failure) of training cannot be properly assessed.

Training objectives should incorporate the need to:

  • Carry out the induction and training of new, promoted and transferred employees.
  • Ensure all staff are competent in basic work skills and knowledge.
  • Keep all staff up-to-date with technical and specialised developments in their field.
  • Provide opportunity for employees to obtain vocational enrichment.
  • Train those promoted to supervisory positions in the necessary skills to meet new objectives.
  • Develop people towards positions of executive or higher technical responsibility.

Supervisory role

The supervisor’s job is to facilitate well-motivated employees to produce work which meets the requirements of quantity, quality, time and cost.

Doing so requires:

  • Good introductory training for new employees.
  • Job descriptions for each position, including expected performance standards.
  • Training in required skills and knowledge.
  • Analysis regarding work objectives and progress towards their achievement.
  • Encouragement to gain advancement by work performance and by educational attainment if appropriate.
  • Notice to management of training needs which cannot be met by existing resources.
  • Adequate updated training plans and records.

Assigning responsibility

Effective training must have – and be seen to have – the commitment and support of senior management.

Management should ensure there is:

  • An implemented training policy.
  • A training budget: anywhere from 1 per cent to 5 per cent of their total salary cost, depending on the number of new staff or staff requiring specialised skills.
  • Provision of time in the standard workflow to undertake training.
  • Provision of the necessary facilities and people.
  • Continuing evaluation of training effectiveness.
  • Information regarding career paths available for advancement within the organisation.

Where this support is not visible and implementation is delegated to a lower level, its impact will be blunted.

The subsequent continuity of training activity will fluctuate in response to various other pressures within the organisation. This is how the real value and impact of training is lost, and as such, should be avoided at all cost.

Sir Gerard Newcombe is executive director at Group Colleges Australia/UBSS and author of Marketing: The Simple Technique and Surviving Asia. He was knighted by the Order of the Knights of Rizal in The Philippines in 2016 for his work in fostering relations between The Philippines and Australia.

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