Staff Training and Development is Crucial

“People need maintenance and upgrades even more than machines do.  Retraining is maintenance.  Training is an upgrade.  Development is the next generation model.” – Clancy’s quotes

The quote above sums up why training and development of employees is crucial and can be the difference between success and failure for a company. In fact training and development of the staff is a business imperative and can never be stopped – it is crucial to the growth and success of the business. The business world, technology, customer behaviour and other aspects related to the corporate environment are changing far too rapidly and if companies do not invest in the continuous growth and knowledge enhancement of their employees, they can be severely disadvantaged. By providing regular opportunities and time for training and development a company can ensure enhanced work productivity, better quality of the work, lowered costs that arise from inefficiency, improved business processes, a more satisfied customer base and a workforce that is highly efficient and loyal.

We have mentioned before that learning is a process and must be part of the culture of any organization – learning happens through providing opportunities for it and one of them is training and development. A company that is focused on learning will ensure that its employees too have opportunities to learn on a daily basis and even in their regular jobs. However, structured training and development programs are a must and each company must have a team that leads this initiative, ensuring that each person in the organization gets opportunities for personal and professional development. In the buzz of everyday tasks and ‘urgent’ jobs, often the crucial task of training and development tends to get relegated to the background, which is one of worst mistakes a company and its employees can make.

Training and development must be ‘enforced’ – the leaders of the organization must show by example the importance of these activities, for enforcement to happen. As an example – a very large hotel chain started the initiative of regular training programs for its staff but did not include the ‘senior’ members of the teams. The reason being that the senior leadership assumed that each of them was skilled in basic things and hence only the other members of the teams needed training. One such senior member was required to make a presentation and it was then discovered that he had no skills or know-how on the subject. It was then that training and development programs became ‘enforced’ for all, beginning with the senior members of the team. Such assumptions and oversights can prove ‘expensive’ and detrimental to a company.

The mistake of ignoring training and development for employees is often made by small businesses since they are afraid of the supposed time spent, the expenses to be incurred and other misplaced fears. However, there are many courses and programs that can be selected by the company keeping in mind the limitations and also those that will suit your business requirements and address the most pressing training and development needs of the employees. Irrespective of the size of a company and the number of employees, the importance of training and development can never be negated, if a company desires progress, growth and long term success.

While employees must have interest in learning, it is the prime responsibility and duty of the company to ensure that adequate and regular training and development opportunities are provided to them. In this sense then, creating and sustaining a learning culture must be the joined responsibility of the company and the employees. The company provides the environment to learn and develop keeping in mind the development needs of the employees and the employees must use each opportunity provided and also suggest possible programs that they think would be useful to them and their teams. Many companies have a separate team that focuses all their time and attention to training and development – creating training calendars, putting together material and programs, sourcing professionals and market leaders to address and conduct programs and other such activities. With proper planning of time and resources, this team is able to ensure that while employees get a chance to expand their knowledge and skills, the workflow of their teams and the company continues uninterrupted. Do you have such a team or training and development strategy in your company?

In running a business and its operations, it is imperative that whatever is put in place runs smoothly with minimum costs and so the same holds true for the training and development plan. For it to be successful and have long term positive effects certain points must be kept in mind. First and foremost would be the employee base – a complete understanding of each person’s experience, skills, knowledge and other such aspects is required in order to put together a comprehensive and customized training and development plan. This would mean that each role would have a well-thought out job description by which the team responsible for putting together the programs would be able to identify the training and development needs for each individual.

In most cases employees are expected to meet the most basic standards and requirements of their job but if they lack on this count, then it is the duty of the immediate supervisor to ensure that they receive training to help them come up to an acceptable standard. This is usually under a performance improvement plan. Through such focused attention, most employees normally regain control of their job responsibilities and those that don’t, either leave or they asked to find other employment. Training and development programs give each employee a fair chance to prove their capabilities such that each one feels valued and important. Over time, as the business needs and customer expectations change, employees would need to change and be flexible in their approach to their job. A successful training and development program is one which is adaptable and takes into consideration the possible skills and knowledge that the company would need in order to face up to future demands.

As training and development becomes part of the culture, each person is attuned to see learning opportunities in their daily routines and job tasks. This inculcates the habit of doing things more efficiently, improving what is not working and doing one’s job without supervision – this habit is infectious and spreads quickly. It is a great idea to spread knowledge through the team members – that means if one employee attends a highly specialized program, they must be provided the opportunity to disseminate their learning to the rest of the team. This way each member of the team understands and learns something new, the ‘teaching’ member reinforces the learning and the company saves time and money on putting all the members through a training program that may not be imperative to doing their job role better but is only a good to know.

Training and development opportunities also work as a major motivational and retention tool for employees. Each person is keen to grow and move forward in their career and with such chances provided by a company employees would stick with the company and work harder and smarter in order to get noticed and be chosen for plum training and development projects – like overseas assignments, employee exchange programs and the likes.

Planning and implementing training and development programs is all about the company and the leaders taking the time and effort to completely understand the needs of the employees and the company. Once they are able to identify the knowledge base and skills the employees have, putting together a learning program to fill the gaps will not be hard to do. A well-thought out and meticulously implemented training and development strategy has huge benefits like employee loyalty and enhanced productivity leading to better prospects for the company.

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