Training and Technology go hand-in-hand

Successful training can lead to a significant return on investment. The profitability of your business relies on your staff performing essential day to day tasks. Training can take your company to the next level while allowing your staff to continue doing their jobs
Lucrative companies of today are desperate for a fast return on their technology investments and there is no greater way to speed up the return than providing some important training for the team.

Plan for Training

Many people think that all technology spending should be made on the concrete technology products like new computers and programs. If you find yourself thinking that way, take a step back and look at the larger picture. The best new computers and software in the world will not help you if your team does not know how to use them effectively. You need to consider an implementation plan that covers the spending on your technology needs and incorporates a component for training.

Technology training should be a part of your general plan for staff training. Make sure you plan time for training into your employees' work plans. It's hard for people to be enthused about training when it means they have to work all weekend to do the work they missed while they were at a class. Include the cost of staff time in your calculation of training costs.

Before you bring in a trainer or send staff off to a class get a sense of where their skills are currently, as well as a clear sense of what your organisation's needs for staff skills are. Decide what skills staff need and what they can already do. A computer usage survey may take ten minutes for everyone to fill out at a staff meeting but keep in mind that self-rating is not always accurate. As the saying goes, "Those who know, don't say, those who say, don't know." Studies have shown that women consistently rate themselves lower on confidence and ability with technology than men do, even when their skills are more advanced.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when planning your training needs. They cover your staff profile, past training sessions, current objectives and training logistics.

Staff / Skill Profile

  • Who are the target audience? What are their skills and motivation levels?
  • What training have the staff requested?
  • What in your organisation specifically indicates that training is needed?

Training Systems

  1. In the past, how has training been delivered?
  2. On a scale of 1-5, how successful would you say past training has been?
  3. What is your budget for training? Is the budget flexible?
  4. What methods of training do you use?
  5. How does each team member learn?
  6. Does training of staff typically happen off-site?
  7. What training has proven successful in the past? Were learners able to apply what was taught immediately? What training has NOT proven successful?

Training Objectives

  1. What areas of inefficiency do you have that training could improve?
  2. What do you want included/covered in the training?
  3. If training was successful, what would be the outcome?
  4. What is the problem to be addressed through training?

Training Logistics

  1. Do you have time allocated for organised technology training for your staff?
  2. By what date do you want staff to be able to use software, systems, etc.?

It can help if you ask for input from the team regarding the training they would like. If people feel they are being included in the decision making process and then have their skills increased by keeping up to date with new technologies, it often increases their loyalty to your organisation and decreases expensive staff turnover.

Make it clear to the team that you see training as a priority. If staff see your name first on the list for a training session, they will be more likely to take it seriously. If you ask them about their training progress in your regular meetings, they will get the idea that it is part of your performance expectations. You can also consider making certain training sessions mandatory or offering rewards and incentives for training. Show that you see training as a privilege and an opportunity for growth - it will take you a long way towards creating the culture of a learning organisation.

Considering Customised Training

Customised training is in many ways an ideal model for learning. It can meet your needs directly because it is specifically tailored to your organisation, and it takes place at the time and place that you choose. The drawback is that it may be more expensive up-front. For customised training to be successful, you must find the appropriate trainer and define and communicate your training needs clearly.

Avoiding Common Training Mistakes

Here are some areas of training that you should look at avoiding in order to get the most out of your training program:

  1. Set up a training program without a clear understanding of what you'd like to get out of it.
  2. Give short notice for the training, leaving trainees with no advance time to prepare.
  3. Don't ask for any input from the people who will be receiving the training, design and plan it all by yourself. If people have questions or input during the training session, ignore them.
  4. Choose training techniques that don't match your organisations culture. For instance, do a lot of role playing with a group of people who are extremely shy and introverted, or provide computer based training for individuals who don't know the basics of how to operate a computer.
  5. Pull people out of training for other business. Make sure that all staff members have their mobile phones and pagers set to ring on high volume in case there is a "crisis" they have to deal with.
  6. Teach skills that don't have any direct relationship to the work you are asking people to do. Make sure you stick to a pre-designed curriculum which you don't modify at all.
  7. Don't pay attention to your room set-up. Bake or freeze your participants by setting the room temperature really high or low. Either squeeze 20 people into a room designed for 10 or put 10 people in an auditorium.

Training for Success

So, now you know what not to do. Here are a few reminders of how to make your training a success:

  1. Make sure staff members are separated from their daily work activities. Their job that day is to learn new skills.
  2. Target your training to teach necessary skills. Do some homework and find out from your staff what they need to know to do their job well. Present the material in a way that will match your staff's learning style.
  3. Teach new skills that can be applied on the job right away.
  4. Select a room that has the elements you need. Make sure it is big enough, set at a comfortable temperature, and that all equipment is on hand and working. Speak with the technical staff regarding your needs and find out how to reach them if there is a problem.
  5. Employ a professional company that can assist with the planning phases, training of staff and offers after the session support.
  6. Make it fun! Training is serious business, but that doesn't mean you have to be!