What to consider before sending your staff to training


Training staff is of paramount importance when you consider the benefits to your business and staff development. It can improve their engagement with their roles and responsibilities and provide growth for your business. And it also demonstrates to your staff that you are committed to their learning and have a vested interest in their professional development.


There are many opportunities to train staff.  It could be in-house training sessions, on the job training, online courses or webinars for example.


But it’s important to know why you are training your staff.  A key point to remember, ‘Training is diminished when content is irrelevant’.  What are the needs for the training, what outcomes are you hoping to achieve. 


Ensure you follow this step by step plan that guides you through a range of activities that will determine and help you focus on what is most beneficial for your business and for your staff’s development.


Let’s go through a simple 6 step process. Each step relates to each other and is effective when all steps are considered; You can’t conduct training if you don’t know the areas that need it.  You can’t motivate your staff to realise your dreams for your business if you don’t have a clear vision and they don’t know what it is. You can’t decide on training or coaching until you’ve assessed competence and areas for improvement.


Let’s start at the beginning


Identify the gaps in the business and staff knowledge first. Steps 1-3


Step 1. What vision do you have for your business?


Know the current position of your business and where you want it to be.  What do you and your business stand for?  Revisit your vision, values and mission statement.  Have any of these changed since you first started your business. Do the actions you take reflect these? Are they clear to your staff? 


Result: You know what you want to achieve


Step 2. Where are the business weaknesses? 


Take the time to complete a SWOT analysis of your business as this will highlight areas of weakness. Be comprehensive when filling in each area.  There should be at least 5 points you have identified for the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat.  The more points you enter the more information you are gathering to truly build a foundation to work from. Ideally 10 points should be identified for each. 


The areas of weakness that are personnel related or areas where the staff can make an impact should be considered as coaching or training opportunities.  For example: improved sales, higher conversion rate or building effective team dynamics.


Result: You know what your business weaknesses are


Step 3. What are the gaps in staff knowledge?


You may have a range of staff with different roles and responsibilities.  What is their purpose for your business? What specifically do you need your staff to be able to achieve?  The role of manager will be different to that of a junior staff member.  And different to a lab technician. Do you need to employ more staff to cover certain roles


Where are the gaps in skills and knowledge? Review where your staff’s knowledge levels are in terms of Position Description v’s Performance.  Are there areas in their Professional Development they’re not achieving?  Are there parts of their Job Description they have not been trained on?  Do not expect them to know things that are outside their level of responsibility or skills set. Or things you have not already trained them in.  You can not measure these, it is not valid.  Undertake a performance review.  Include your staff in this process and give them the opportunity to discuss what they would like to learn or what they feel they need to improve on.  


Result: You know your staff resources and how they contribute to the business


Bringing it all together.  Steps 4-6


Step 4. Analyse the gap.


A gap analysis highlights the areas requiring focus and is the space between where you want your business to be and where your business is at. A comparison of actual performance with potential performance.


Identify areas that are personnel related or areas where the staff can make an impact and focus on these. This is where you will now compare the results of your SWOT analysis (business weaknesses) and the performance reviews (staff weaknesses) to the vision you have for your business (Step 1). Is there a correlation between the three that shows deficiencies in certain areas? What is clearly stated as opportunities to be maximised. 


Result: You know the areas requiring improvement and focus


Step 5. Training v’s Coaching


To know which one will be most appropriate we need to consider the following.


Have staff already been trained in certain competencies but lacking application. Are they new to a role where only on-the-job training has been provided. What level of competency are you requiring of staff.


We need to look into these areas and determine the most effective course of action. Is training even needed. Could it be that coaching is all that is required. It is critical that staff are not retrained in areas of competencies when coaching could be the key to cementing their understanding of a topic. 


You will know what direction to take once your data from the performance reviews have been entered into a TNA (Training Needs Analysis). This is where it will be clear if coaching or training is chosen based on assessing various areas of competence.


Result: You know what is a coaching or training need


Step 6. Consider the ROI


You are investing time and money into training opportunities for your staff, so be sure to select activities and courses that directly relate to the desired outcomes of the business. Consider if a training course will provide the outcomes or if in-house or on the job training will be the best option.  Consider who will be trained and do you have staff to replace them during this period. Where will the training take place and at what cost and who will be performing the training.


Don’t send them to training just for the sake of it, make it meaningful. Be thoughtful and constructive in planning your staff training. 


Result: You know what training will be undertaken to maximise ROI



‘Training is diminished when content is irrelevant’


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