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From training to better execution

Entertainment and reward, necessity or an inseparable part of the company success– what is the value of the staff trainings in your company?

 

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In a situation of an increasingly mature market, intensified competition and growing hardships for the business over the last few years it is absolutely natural for more and more company managers to seek a higher, guaranteed and measurable effect of the investment in the staff training and development. The issues of assessing the effect and measuring the return on the trainings are extremely modern. The assessment of the effect alone is pointless, if all other factors, that influence the training programs effect, had not been managed in advance. In this article we are trying to identify them and give some, although not comprehensive, recommendations on how to secure a higher return on the investment in staff training.

Needs analysis and program selection

There are dozens of interesting, progressive and attractive trainings and trainers, approved by the participants. Trainings and trainers that people will like for sure. The question, however, is what will this contribute to the business and whether this is the right training people need, in order to deal more effectively with the duties required by their position.

The economically effective strategy for selecting a training is the needs analysis or in other words, to find out which training will improve the quality of people’s work. One of the most successful projects for staff develoрment in my practice have been the programs, based on a precise business need related to a strategic objective or the stage of the organizational development.

In our practice we have used such an approach in a project that we completed together with a bank, which was trying to achieve growth in the volume and the quality of service in retail banking. After conducting marketing surveys and an analysis, we identified certain aspects in the employees’ behavior and in the commercial process, which needed to be improved. The objectives defined in this way were the basis of the analysis that we conducted jointly with representatives of the bank. The analysis was focused on the level of skills and the reasons why at that time people were not working as expected. It showed the areas for improvement which had to be addressed and the training program was designed to cover them in the best way possible.

Conducting the training

Once the specific needs are identified, a program, which responds to them, has to be prepared. Looking at the training program, the client has to clearly recognize the elements of the program (exercise, examining of theoretical models, skill training sessions and etc.), which provide opportunity for progress towards each of the goals, as well as what will the effect of each training activity be. In addition to the well selected content, the degree of interactiveness and the ability of the trainer to improve the participants’ skills also affect the training. This is achieved through the skilful creation and management of several processes in the course of the training:

-        Self-assessment – an opportunity for participants to evaluate their behavior and skills up to that moment and to identify their individual needs for development and improvement

-        Feedback  –  the participants have the opportunity to receive feedback for their skills and behavior, which can help them correct and improve their skills

-        Reaching insights and conclusions – the participants have the opportunity to reach some conclusions regarding themselves, their interaction with the others or more effective models of behavior and approach towards the tasks

-        Taking risk and experimenting – the participants can experiment with new behavioral models, which can help them break the ineffective stereotypes of behavior

-        Connection to reality – regardless of the metaphoric nature of most activities, used throughout the trainings, we help the participants connect the training situations to their reality.

The role of the managers

The participants’ direct managers have a critical role for using to the utmost the training effect. They have two main tasks: to create a supporting environment for applying the newly acquired skills and to require of staff to apply what they have learned in the trainings. A good practice is when the manager and the associate have a conversation before the employee attends the training and identify specific objects and fields for development, on which the employee has to work during and after the training. It is important that after the training the manager supports through feedback the employee’s efforts into applying the skills acquired in the training and to provide an environment, which stimulates the new skills implementation through the assignment of specific tasks and responsibilities.

Individual attitudes and characteristics

Employees differ in several main characteristics, which define to what extent certain training would have an effect:

 

Attitudes and beliefs Attitudes, stimulating development Attitudes, blocking development
Beliefs regarding the abilities, skills and personality They believe that skills are developed gradually as a result of purposeful attempts and efforts They believe that abilities are innate and a matter of talent. The behavior is sustainable in time and is a matter of character, hence cannot be changed.
Adopting the efforts, feedback and planning They believe that skills are developed gradually as a result of purposeful attempts and efforts They believe that abilities are innate and a matter of talent. The behavior is sustainable in time and is a matter of character, hence cannot be changed.
Attitude towards the objectives They set and follow challenging objectives for development and achievements. The challenges are avoided, viewed as unrealistic, because the abilities cannot be changed anyway.

 

Certainly, the idea of introducing discriminative policies for participation in a training on the basis of the abovementioned characteristics contradicts many of the ethical principles and the philosophy of the activities for people development. Knowing them, however, helps managers and HR specialists identify these blocking attitudes and change them purposefully on an individual level and by building the beliefs and convictions, which create a supportive environment for trainings in the company.

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