True competence starts with strategy

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Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

We've discussed how training is not competence and how compromised employee competence can hurt all aspects of business performance. So, what do you do about it? Today I'd like to discuss a very simple approach to developing effective training and cultivating workplace competence.

While a high level of employee competence makes the difference between a simply serviceable workforce and one that truly excels, many might contest that achieving competence is easier said than done. This is true; properly training staff can be a significant burden on any organization. Simply providing training, tracking training, and measuring competence post-training involves substantial costs, multiple dedicated, full-time trainers, depending on the organization’s size – burdens that are significantly reduced if not entirely eliminated for organizations that use the right training tracking and management software. Coupling these software tools with a training strategy will generate results for any organization of any size, under any budgetary constraints.

To that end, here are some essential tips for improving your workplace trainign programs and enhancing employee competence.

  • Start with a training strategy. Conduct a basic needs assessment to define what the requirements are for all employee groups and determine resource and content availability so you know who is available to provide training and what materials exist or need to be created. The results of these investigations will inform your implementation strategy. Plan to leverage training management software to execute your strategy, and ensure it is scalable software that can accompany corporate growth.
  • Evaluate your time constraints and resources. Do you need an employee up and running as soon as possible, or can your training resources take time to train the individual and gradually integrate him or her into the workforce? If you don’t want to hire and maintain a team of trainers to implement your training plan and conduct training and competency exercises as your organization grows, use a training software tool. Yes, training and competency-building is a significant investment, but it cannot be reiterated enough how time-consuming and resource-heavy thorough training can be without streamlined software. Even the simple act of tracking training manually – that is, without a training tracking tool – will eat up unnecessary resources on a daily basis and grind your training program down to a lumbering pace.
  • Define goals and track progress. While this may be one of the most crucial aspects in a successful training strategy, it is also one of the most overlooked. Business leaders often think that training is nebulous and too difficult to track, and this factor might be the greatest contributor to the gulf between training and competence described above. Yet it is quite simple to track the success of a training strategy.
  • Get a training software solution that can capture and streamline key performance indicators (KPI), such as dates and times for training, instructors, cost per delivery, attendance, and accountability. It is also ideal to have functionality to automatically assign courses (e.g. Brian is hired in the manufacturing department and automatically assigned a group of required courses), reminders and escalations, generate reports, and produce detailed analytics on training performance.
  • Build custom quizzes. Critically, you’ll want the capacity to generate customized quizzes to test employees on course content to ensure they have actually absorbed required information. This step is generally overlooked, yet is one of the most crucial aspects of building competency as opposed to having employees simply ‘sit in a classroom’. Notably, possessing all of these documented metrics will help you circumvent potential legal calamities by enabling you to easily prove all employees were thoroughly trained.
  • Calculate ROI and get buy-in. An underlying component to a successful training strategy is buy-in, and not just from senior management and those that hold the purse strings, but across the entire organization. As you prepare your training strategy, create case studies, define scenarios that illustrate the consequences of compromised training – as well as the costs, time and resources associated with a manual training management system as opposed to a software-based system – and calculate training ROI to build a convincing case for a streamlined, competency-focused training strategy.

Do you have ideas on how to better ensure training programs improve workforce competency? Write me or post your ideas in the comments section below.

Want to learn more about building effective training programs and generating true competency among your workforce? Check our white paper, Cultivating Competence: Leveraging Training Tools for Measurable Results.

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