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Esther McMorris

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Changing the face of training: A practical guide


Esther McMorris looks at training in the context of change management and what organisations should be considering when implementing their change programmes.

At some point during an individual’s career, change will take place, but despite this fact of professional life, many still struggle during the change process. General upheaval, new processes and technology and shifts in the way people work can all have a significant impact on staff morale and satisfaction levels. This is why change management is such a significant concern for businesses and those involved in overseeing development.

You might be the practitioner leading the process, an HR professional managing a workforce’s reaction or someone undergoing the change, but it applies to everyone. That said, while change management might seem challenging, it can also be extremely rewarding for the business. If delivered successfully, it can result in widespread transformation, greater operational efficiency and a more productive workforce.

Training for success

Behind every successful change programme is a competent training strategy. Businesses need to implement a company-wide training structure that supports staff from the moment change is announced to the end result: sustainable business improvement. The first step is to define the programme’s vision and objectives. First align the business’s intended outcomes against the available internal resources. This highlights what is needed moving forward. A clear training roadmap keeps momentum up while ensuring staff morale does not drop. If feedback or resistance occurs, do not ignore it. Evaluate the reasoning and discuss it with other stakeholders to identify whether the feedback is valid and whether it should be addressed immediately.

Remember, training is not something that only happens in formal sessions. It is an ongoing process that takes place throughout the workplace. Communicate success clearly and regularly throughout the entire organisation so staff can share in progress. Not only does this generate a sense of community, but it also helps create advocates of the changes taking place. This group is vital for maintaining momentum and they are a powerful stakeholder group.

The second steps

Once stakeholders are onboard, ensure staff are prepared for what is approaching. This means pre-delivery training (formal and informal), but more than anything, listening to staff to ensure they know what is on the horizon and how it will impact their everyday lives. There are three steps that every business needs to take at this point:

  • Analysis – what is needed, who should be involved and what organisational strengths and weaknesses exist?

  • Delivery – begin the training process and start measuring the accompanying cultural changes

  • Adjustment – tweak sessions, assess new methods, canvas feedback, evolve the programme

Analysis is more than just thinking about what staff might need to adjust. Firstly, do staff even need training? Does the organisation as a whole require support or is it just specific departments and teams? Are there potential problem areas that could cause delays or threaten the success of the programme? Highlighting potential pitfalls and risks, planning appropriate responses and creating a strategy to guard against complications will stop the programme derailing. It is better to put a framework in place before risks can manifest than after.

Another important consideration is whether those delivering the training need training themselves? Never overlook the negative effect misinformed or unprepared trainers can have on a programme’s success.

Training the trainers

These questions need answering before the programme itself can even begin. They apply to every kind of training, whether instructor-led, hands-on or elearning. An effective training strategy includes a blend of all of these delivery methods, but the core consideration they are based around never changes.

Most importantly, it is about the people. The training subject matter might be a new procedure, technology solution or a flexible working policy, but if a workforce is not put first in a training scheme, especially within the context of change management, the organisation will fail to realise long-term change. Assess and prepare effectively however, and the reverse will occur. Constantly evaluate the training strategy and business transformation will follow.

Esther McMorris, is the founder and director of Nine Feet Tall, experts in business transformation and leaders in delivering positive change


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