Training your team is an investment – and one well worth making. Employees who lack skills or knowledge are likely to struggle in a role they aren’t properly equipped for, causing demotivation, anxiety and underperformance.
But planning an effective staff training plan takes time and effort. It’s critical to understand each team member’s individual needs and to set training targets that match your business goals.
A good training plan isn’t just a job description – it should cover hard and soft skills:
Hard skills: technical skills that can be measured, such as the ability to use software
Soft skills: less tangible skills, such as negotiation and listening
Mike Edwards, head of people at business gas comparison site Love Energy Savings, suggests his top seven ways to create a staff training plan that will succeed.
1. Assess staff needs
Each member of staff will have a different level of experience and knowledge so it’s important you start by assessing them individually. This could take the form of a survey, a personal interview or manager’s observations.
2. Engage staff
Your staff are much more likely to be willing to take part in additional training if they understand the importance of it. Not everyone likes change so be open to questions from your team and emphasise the benefits training will bring. Encourage your team to research training opportunities and make their own suggestions.
3. Recruit a specialist
To properly implement a training plan, you may need to look outside your organisation. By bringing in a specialist co-ordinator who is dedicated to ensuring training happens, you can send a strong message to employees that you’re serious about their development.
4. Make it measurable
Your training co-ordinator should devise training plans that meet SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Agreed-upon, Realistic and Time-based. This will ensure each team member is on a development path that can be measured.
5. Celebrate success
Encourage your team to take pride in their training achievements by celebrating their success. This will help maintain morale and drive, which is important for long-term training plans after the initial excitement has worn off.
6. Receive feedback
Be open to receiving feedback from your staff on how their training is going. It should be a two-way conversation so encourage an open and honest dialogue within your team. Training should be a discussion point that staff can openly debate and get passionate about.
7. Refresh and refine your training plan
Training should be reviewed and revised continually, ensuring it meets both your staff and business goals as they develop. Accepting adaptations and improvements will ensure your training is relevant and fresh, and it’ll help to keep your team inspired.
Further reading on staff training
Making the most of your training budget
- Remembering that training is an investment. Companies that continue their investment in training and development during a recession will have an edge on the competition, with team members who have continued to sharpen and develop their skills while others have not.
- Ensuring your training is targeted and really needed. Assess your team members’ real strengths and weaknesses before sending them off for training. If they don’t need the training, don’t waste their time and your money on it.
- Working with providers that truly understand your needs. Training consultants should take time to really understand your needs, getting to the core of your issues to help bring about positive change.
- Choosing training that is flexible and customised. If it isn’t, you are likely to be disappointed with the results and will have misallocated scarce company resources.
- Establishing measurable returns. It may take some time and effort to establish the metrics and benchmarks but measurement is essential to know if it’s been a valid use of company resources, as well as making it easier to defend your budget.