When is it the best time to create and deliver new training programs? For many organizations, there is confusion around how to determine where training fits in, who is responsible for it, and what training is needed. This article briefly outlines what a strategic focus on training is, and how it promotes a continuous learning environment that responds to ongoing, and changing business and learning needs.
Do you ask yourself over and over — when is the right time to train? Is it in crisis mode when there’s an immediate need to fix an issue? Is it when regulations or laws are set and compliance training must be put in place? What about implementing training when things are running smoothly and heading toward success – do you think about training then? Should you? Consider this scenario:
Business is growing. New account reps are coming on board.
Product differentiation is underway. New clients and revenues are increasing. WOW! Things are great, everything is working.
Except, something is missing that will catch up with overall success.
When is Training Needed?
Training programs and established processes need to be in place to assist employees with their goals and responsibilities. Training provides support to staff through any type of organizational change, good or bad. By this definition then, training is always needed, and that’s when a continuous learning philosophy comes into focus.
Often, as a company becomes successful, the infrastructure to support it begins to falter. It’s important to maintain a close watch on organizational vision and goals, and identify if new requirements for growth are needed. Although creating training programs can be time consuming — taking you away from other priorities — you must ask yourself — can I afford not to develop training right now? Then, a determination must be made of what training, and for whom, is most critical.
At the juncture where immediate needs, current success, and future goals cross paths, you need to evaluate how you got to where you are, and how you will continue to reach defined goals. This requires an honest assessment of where gaps in process, communication flow (including documentation sharing) and training exist. Once defined, you can begin to create a solution orientation to plan future growth and identify solutions to immediate, and specific needs.
A solution orientation identifies immediate challenges and how to solve them. It focuses on the big picture and future goals, but considers short term requirements. It focuses on the “problem” “issue” or “challenge” and finds a specific solution for it. By solving immediate needs and challenges, future goals and success can be met.
One way to develop a solution orientation is to adopt a strategic focus on training. Looking at training strategically responds to the gap analysis. It defines what training and knowledge needs are required in order to meet organizational goals. As goals evolve so do knowledge and training needs, which promotes a continuous learning environment. When planning training, a question to ask is: When success comes, will the organizational structure be ready for it? Will appropriate staff be in place, and ready to respond to continue to grow the business? In order to do this, an organization must have a clear vision of goals, and a success map that outlines the path to reach them.
To return to the scenario presented earlier, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you to determine who needs what training when. And remember, training is needed when things are going right, as well as when the organization is more focused on meeting goals.
1. Are new hires oriented to the organization? Do they understand the company, its culture, its products, and how you differentiate from competitors?
2. Does the sales team fully grasp new features and benefits of new products?
3. Do support departments know how to provide back-up, and fulfill the needs of client-facing staff?
4. Has customer service been brought up to speed on new product features and differentiation?
5. Do account reps know how to get a “buy” quickly through the system and into accounts receivable?