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Amanda Westwood

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Make internal training pay – part 1


For most businesses, employees represent the single biggest operational cost, so making sure each and every staff member performs to the best of their abilities is crucial. Amanda Westwood argues that training internally can unlock significant business benefits.

Challenge the status quo

Despite enthusiastic pronouncements of ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery, the vast majority of operational budgets remain under pressure. Conflicting priorities (all important) and a need to do more with less are focusing the boardroom’s minds and leading to even greater budget scrutiny. However, with employees representing the biggest cost to most businesses, it makes good sense to make sure each staff member performs to the best of their abilities and, without question, training has an important role to play.

If implemented intelligently, training will help ensure organisational success. And part of maximising the return on the training investment is understanding when you can take on the training yourself, and when to seek outside expertise, as there are benefits associated with each model.

The merits of external training

In general, organisations focus on delivering a product or service and not on designing complex training programmes, so outsourcing training allows an organisation to focus on its core competencies. In addition, qualified training providers are well versed in helping organisations align training with key business goals and will always consider its impact on the company culture, as well as maximising learning return on investment.

Secondly, outsourcing training allows for better cost control if the entire end-to-end process (from goal setting and content development to post-training follow up) is managed by a third party. This prevents internal resources being usurped and also mitigates many of the risks associated with the process as training providers continuously invest in tools and processes which drive efficiencies and free up budget for additional training – or other important activities.

Last and certainly not least, outsourcing training can provide access to subject matter expertise – particularly important if the organisation lacks specific skill sets or needs to access advanced technologies, for example. In this instance, it delivers organisational agility and prevents time consuming and expensive distractions of ‘doing it yourself’.

The merits of internal training

Often overlooked, internal training is an efficient, cost-effective and effective method for equipping employees with the requisite skills, knowledge and competencies to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Whether the training is provided on the job, by informal or formal coaches and mentors, in classrooms or via elearning, or even apps on mobile devices, internal training has the potential to positively impact employee performance, and subsequently business performance. Your training professionals know the inner workings of your organisation and, with a clear strategy and enabling technologies, will be able to cater for specific individual needs within the context of your strategic goals and personal objectives.

Furthermore, internal training can be more easily aligned with the organisation’s culture and easily ‘brought to life’ with real life examples, problems and challenges that participants encounter every day at work. Content can be presented using the language, terminology and ‘brand experience’ that people will understand and be familiar with.

Combined with training initiatives, performance improvement efforts can include a variety of very effective tactics. There are too many to list here, but things to be considered include: assigning each employee a formal mentor from within his work group, with the more experienced employee having the responsibility to help his colleague learn the skills necessary to succeed in his job; or inciting employees to seek out informal mentors on their own in areas of required development and interest, thereby encouraging effective collaborative learning practices and enabling employees to take ownership of their own development.

Amanda Westwood is CEO of Silver Lining Solutions, a specialist performance management software company. For over 20 years, Amanda has worked with major global organisations to improve employee performance and drive exceptional returns from learning and development initiatives.


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