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How to determine if training is the right option?


In today’s complex workplace, it can be difficult to know when to select training as the right method for closing knowledge and skill gaps. Below are 3 key areas for you to consider and determine when training will not be effective.

1.       Training cannot close skill gaps caused by:

Poor morale or attitude - Over the years I have worked with many managers and I am amazed at how many times I’ve been asked to put together training to address their staff’s poor morale or attitude.

Poor policies or procedures – When people aren’t following your companies policies and procedures it doesn’t mean that they don’t know what they are, or lack the skills to adhere to them.

Equipment problems – Not having the right computers, software, office equipment, tools etc will prevent your staff from being effective in their role and achieve your company’s objectives.

Lack of incentives – This one really speaks for itself. However if you take into consideration Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, people will be motivated by different things. So if you are only offering a gift card as a reward then you might need to rethink what incentives motivate your staff.

2.       Training may not be the most economical solution when:

There are only a few employees affected by the new skill requirement – Sometimes managers can get swept up in the in the notion that they are doing a good deed by providing training. Save your budget and the sanity of your employees and apply the training to only those who really need it.

The need for the skill is only short term – Again if you have a skill that will only be needed for a short period of time, save your budget. Don’t train all your staff, consider having an expert in the team or hiring a contractor with the right skills in the short term.

Training delivers information only and does not build skills: Let’s face it, if it is information only then it is a presentation. Not training.

3.       Training is very ineffective and expensive when:

Training large groups of people in order to correct the behaviour of only a few – Of all of the points in this post this one would be my biggest bug bare. If you’re a sales manager and your people aren’t hitting their numbers, does not automatically mean that all of your sales people don’t know how to close a sale. That is just one example of many I’ve heard.

It is used to try and correct fundamental hiring errors – Sometimes as a manager you just have to admit you hired a dud and take action to move that person on.

Trying to persuade sales professionals to market or sell products that customers don’t want – If you are in touch with your market research and customer feedback then this one shouldn’t be a problem.

Used to try and solve disciplinary problems – This one is a pure management function. Management will at times involve having to be assertive and step in to discipline an employee. It’s never a nice thing to have to do, but don’t try and get a trainer to do this for you.

Attempting to reduce employee turnover or absence from work – The underlying cause of high attrition or absence in a workplace cannot be solved by training those employees in the area where the attrition or absence in happening. Typically it will be coming from another source such as the environment, managers, culture, safety etc. Training in this case can be one of the methods incorporated into the bigger picture, but it cannot be used as the only method to address the problem.

Completing a needs analysis will help you determine if these are the core issues in your workplace and if training is the answer or one part of the solution.

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