Most companies only pay attention to training new employees, but research shows that consistently promoting professional development at all levels is equally important to improving the organization’s long-term performance.
Here are some tips on how to make the training more efficient and easy:
1. Determine the length and complexity of the training program
The first thing to consider when developing a training program is whether your business objectives align with the staff’s interests and skills. Do the employees need ongoing, long-term help that might last up to a year? What stage is the team at? Do they need a step-by step guide to achieve the final objective? There can be many scenarios but to answer these types of questions you need to consider the following:
- The company’s goals, strengths and weaknesses.
- The employees’ roles and responsibilities.
- The employees’ performance and behavior in their jobs. Conduct semiannual or quarterly performance reviews.
- Your own observations of employee interactions and informal discussions. Sometimes the employees know best where they are lacking behind or where they lack skills.
2. Customize your training
Before starting the training, conduct some surveys to find out some personal information about your employees: interests, previous experience, educational level about the training tasks, etc. By gathering this information, it will be easier to identify the most suitable training types and tactics for your trainees. For example, some employees learn best visually with the help of infographics and videos, while others might require a more practical approach. Don’t forget also about the employees’ needs. If you have new workers who just graduated from college, training on email etiquette is very useful and necessary. However, the same training would be useless for mid-level managers.
To make the information gathering process faster, use Swift Polling, which is a perfect tool for getting feedback by text message and online. As opposed to paper questionnaires — which need to be created, distributed, collected and reviewed — Swift collects and calculates the voting results automatically in real-time and displays them through pie charts or graphs. You just need to ask your employees to vote and Swift will handle the rest. After you have the information, analyze the results and pick the best training for your employees.
3. Training reinforcement
All the hard work and training will be forgotten in less than a week if there is no reinforcement. People forget almost 90 percent of new information and this is one of the major reasons why employees don’t apply the concepts they learned. Neuroscientists discovered that if we do not use a newly learned information, the brain will throw it away. Employees need opportunities to revisit the information they learned and process it in order remember and apply it. Training reinforcement is a useful way to overcome the forgetting problem. Prepare a series of small lessons or activities that will serve as repetition.
4. Try out different types of training
It is not always productive to stick to only one type of training. Experiment with several and decide which ones to continue based on the overall success rate. Let’s look at some effective employee training types.
If there is a need to grow your employees’ skill set, cross-training will be very useful. This tactic will give an opportunity for employees to get acquainted with a wider spector of the company, explore more job functions and show personal growth. During the program, they will move from one department to another assisting, wherever they are needed and exchanging knowledge, skills and experience.
Classroom or instructor-led training
Classroom or instructor-led training is also efficient and popular. It includes storytelling, PowerPoint presentations, videos and blackboard or whiteboard techniques. All of these techniques are used by an instructor to create customized trainings presenting large amounts of material. They create presentations to visualize and help them lead the session. Videos or case studies serve as boosters for discussions. This type of training is face-to-face, personal and relatively cost-effective.
The one thing that classroom trainings lack is interactivity, which can be filled in with interactive trainings. They include quizzes, small group discussions, Q&A sessions, active summaries, role playing and demonstrations. To make the session as effective as possible, you need to break it down with quizzes, small group discussions and Q&A sessions. This will not only help employees to better remember the material, but will also keep them engaged and focused. It is also important to discuss and analyze real-life job-related situations. Organize role playing because by acting out those situations, the employees learn how to handle them before facing them in real life. Whenever possible, use demonstrations to help the employees have a practical experience. Lastly, conduct active summaries; create small groups of employees and ask each group to choose a leader who will summarize the sessions major points.
Hands-on or experiential training
Another type, hands-on or experiential training, offers coaching and apprenticeships. Coaches, who are experienced workers, can provide guidance, support, encouragement and feedback to new employees. This method of training is less formal. Apprenticeships are formal and structured training programs designed to supervise new workers that can last up to a year or more.
5. Recognize growth
It is important for the employees to have incentive and motivation throughout the training process. Develop a matrix to be able to track their performance and growth. Don’t forget about recognizing and rewarding high achievers. Conduct surveys after each session to get some insights from the employees about the pros and cons of each topic. Which program was the most helpful? What parts can be improved? What topics would they would like to see to be covered next time?
Use Swift Polling for conducting the surveys, as it collects feedback both online and via text messages.