There are numerous reasons an organisation should provide training and development for staff, and there are many ways to put that training in place.
Providing your staff with training not only benefits the organisation in the sense that it increases productivity and reduces the need for constant supervision and direction, it evokes a feeling of value among employees. It shows the organisation is committed to providing staff with the required resources to ensure they can complete their job to a high standard. There are three main different types of 'training need':
- Organisational needs:
Asking questions such as ‘What are the aims of the organisation?’ and ‘What are our strengths and weaknesses as a whole?’. These questions often result in very broad terms, which require being broken down into greater detail before they can be acted upon. A lot of the time, these needs will need to be identified at a team level.
- Team needs:
Reviewing team competency needs and skill sets with team objectives and goals in mind – this also considers the individual needs of each member at a high level.
- Individual needs:
Using appraisals or one-to-one reviews allow for individuals to self-reflect on their own training needs with the support of their team lead/manager. This is an assured way to identify areas for development – whether this be through training courses or continual professional development.
Understanding your employees’ training needs determines the most suited methods of delivering L&D. Knowing the appropriate method and focus of training ensures your employees learn efficiently, allowing goals to be met.
- On-the-job training:
Employees receive training whilst remaining in the workplace, during this training, employees are familiarised with the environment of work that they will be involved in. Whether this be the induction and orientation, working with a mentor or shadowing, or even ‘refresher’ training, it’s an opportunity to give the employees ‘hands-on’ experience of using specific equipment and procedures etc.
- Off-the-job training:
This is training undertaken outside of the day-to-day duties and learned away from the ‘job floor’, it can be courses/sessions towards a particular qualification or certification and it still takes place during normal working hours. This can be through use of online courses, seminars and lectures (online or in person), case studies etc.
Effective Strategies – Improving L&D Strategy
There are multiple ways to improve your L&D strategy. Here is just a selection of the ways in which you can implement such a strategy:
- Target soft skills:
Yes, technical skills are of great importance, but consider this: let’s say you need to book an appointment of sorts. When you ring the reception, you’re greeted by a bubbly and personable secretary who asks how they can help you today, they book your appointment and wish you well before you hang up. What a lovely experience, right? Now, let’s say you call up again, but this time another secretary answers, they may be slightly sterner in tone, but still book your appointment and are polite enough, but there’s not the same sense of happy, cheery exchange as previously. Who are you more likely to wish is on the end of that line again in the future?
While technical skills inevitably open opportunities for employees, soft skills will develop them further. Work ethic, attitude, communication skills, emotional intelligence and multiple other personal qualities are soft skills that are crucial for career success. When soft skills are undervalued, less training is provided for them which ultimately blocks off a whole pool of possibilities for employees – ultimately the employers too.
- Motivate and engage employees:
Providing learning opportunities is one of the most import ways to increase engagement and develop competency. When engaged employees are challenged and given skills for career development, they’re more likely to get excited by new opportunities at work and remain happy with their place of work.
- Make use of reviews and appraisals:
Appraisals demonstrate the need for improvement, whilst also recognising achievements already achieved. Without a clear understanding of performance, employees may struggle to have the motivation to upskill. They prevent long-term problems in that they recognise any problems as they’re rising – if a specific employee or even an entire team is missing targets an appraisal is a perfect opportunity to discuss why this may be occurring and put provisions in place to prevent this from continuing.
- Develop a mission statement:
Mission statements are a vital navigational tool when considering the future of an organisation; regardless of your overall goal, you must make your mission statement clear and communicate them well throughout your organisation. It encompasses an entire company, and is essential to all involved by creating identity, developing purpose and envisioning the future. It is also important to note that mission statements will change overtime as an organisation evolves, as focus may change. Making small adjustments to a mission statement reflects growth – however the mission statement should never change drastically or repeatedly as this creates confusion around the identity and purpose, which may result in lack of employee belief and commitment to the goals.
This is just a small selection of the many possible ways in which you can develop and build your L&D strategy.
Using 180/360 Assessments in Your L&D Strategy:
180-degree and 360-degree assessments are the process of gathering feedback about an individual's (the 'subject') performance from other individuals in different areas of the organisation. Through a 180-degree assessment, peers give feedback and rate the subject to their team leaders. On the other hand, in a 360-degree assessment, the feedback and rating comes from individuals at all levels of relationship with the subject.
These assessments are extremely powerful development tools in any organisation as they assess work-specific and role relevant competencies in the sense of self-assessment and peer-assessment. The feedback is then compared to reveal any discrepancies and which ratings are consistent. They can highlight hidden strengths, possible blind spots and suggest areas for development.
All organisations should create an environment in which continuous learning is not only encouraged, but accommodated. The value of employee development goes far beyond simply improving staff skills - aligning future workplace skills and supporting business objectives will continuously reap benefits for any organisation, and sets up a fantastic future.