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The Way I See It… 10 Resolutions for Trainers


WhiteboardThe festive season means a time for reflecting on the past year and of course promising to try a little bit harder/work that bit smarter next year. Guy Selwood Managing Director of Prosell offers some New Year's resolutions for training professionals. Post your own resolutions for 2006 by adding a comment at the end of this article.

This year I will…

* Communicate the objectives. If you are considering implementing a new development programme in 2006, just stop for a moment and check to see that you have communicated the objectives to everyone involved. Are your people clear on what must be achieved and do they know what it is they are supposed to learn? Our research revealed that 73% of course delegates had not discussed their training aims with their manager prior to attending training courses. Our experience has shown that where learning objectives have been clearly communicated and team members consulted at an early stage, development programmes will often face less resistance and experience a greater buy-in from the organisation.

* Measure the returns. With departments competing for limited resources it is vital that training professionals can prove the impact of their interventions on the bottom line. Therefore, where possible always measure training interventions against sales or service objectives to prove the success of your programmes.

* Test what my people are learning. It is vital for many organisations (particularly those operating in a tough regulatory environment) to test the level of retained knowledge amongst personnel. E-learning tools that can use a variety of different media are a good way to administer cost-effective, secure and frequent tests for both office and field based teams. Such products allow individuals to control their learning to suit their own pace and style, but also provide managers, wherever they may be based, with instant feedback on how teams and individuals are performing, allowing identification for reward and support.

* Link training and development plans back to the corporate brand. What are the characteristics that your customer expects to see when they contact your organisation? Your sales staff and customer service agents are your front-line, and as such the voice and face of your company, so whatever they learn must be aligned with the values of your brand. Remember though, that behavioural change is not a one-off event that is learnt in a classroom; it requires constant coaching by line managers to create a positive change.

* Do more ‘on-the-job’. Instigating coaching and development programs ‘on-the-job’ is often more cost-effective than removing a number of sales staff offsite to sit in a classroom environment. This will help deliver your brand values at the ‘moment of truth’ and ensure each customer experience is excellent. Furthermore, on-the-job learning can be applied immediately, increasing the chances that the learning will be retained.

* Take the time to talk. Our recent research that we conducted identified that 55% of managers in a sales or customer service environment spend less than one hour per day talking to their teams. Failure to communicate adequately with team members not only sidelines coaching and development, but also allows other problem areas to go unchecked.

* Take a look around. It’s always worth having a look beyond your industry to see how other sectors train and develop their people. E-learning tools such as intranets, video, and broadcast will make your message consistent, reusable and cost-effective. This can be invaluable to companies who want to deliver a standardised level of training across a widely spread workforce.

* Be strategic. While a degree of strategic flexibility is a must, it is nonetheless fundamental to ensure that the training plan reflects the strategic and tactical direction of the organisation. By referring back to the corporate plan, you can avoid spending limited resources on irrelevant training that will not help to achieve organisational objectives.

* Beware of planning paralysis. Plans are good, but as the adage says: ‘actions speak louder than words’. Avoid planning paralysis at all costs. Remember plans act as a guide but business does not operate in a vacuum, so be prepared to change your plan to suit the environment.

* Say the magic words. Use these two phrases with your team as often as you can: ‘Thank you’ and ‘Well Done’. Two small words can have a big impact. Our research has shown that only 60% of team members noted that they were praised when they do something well, and 10% were never praised by their manager at all, regardless of their achievements.


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