The quality of employees and their development through training and education are major factors in determining long-term profitability of a small business. If you hire and keep good employees, it is good policy to invest in the development of their skills, so they can increase their productivity. Training often is considered for new employees only. This is a mistake because ongoing training for current employees helps them adjust to rapidly changing job requirements.
Purpose of Training and Development
Reasons for emphasizing the growth and development of personnel include Creating a pool of readily available and adequate replacements for personnel who may leave or move up in the organization. Enhancing the company’s ability to adopt and use advances in technology because of a sufficiently knowledgeable staff. Building a more efficient, effective and highly motivated team, which enhances the company’s competitive position and improves employee morale.
Ensuring adequate human resources for expansion into new programs Research has shown specific benefits that a small business receives from training and developing its workers, including:
Reduced employee turnover.
Increased efficiency resulting in financial gains.
Decreased need for supervision.
Employees frequently develop a greater sense of self-worth, dignity and well-being as they become more valuable to the firm and to society. Generally they will receive a greater share of the material gains that result from their increased productivity. These factors give them a sense of satisfaction through the achievement of personal and company goals.
The Training Process
The model below traces the steps necessary in the training process:
Is There a Gap?
Select the Trainees
Select the Training Methods and Mode
Choose a Means of Evaluating
Evaluate the Training
The purpose of formulating a training strategy is to answer two relatively simple but vitally important questions: (1) what is our business? And (2) what should our business be? Armed with the answers to these questions and a clear vision of its mission, strategy and objectives, a company can identify its training needs.
Identifying Training Needs
Training needs can be assessed by analyzing three major human resource areas: the organization as a whole, the job characteristics and the needs of the individuals. This analysis will provide answers to the following questions:
Where is training needed?
What specifically must an employee learn in order to be more productive?
Who needs to be trained?
Also, in today’s market-driven economy, you would be remiss not to ask your customers what they like about your business and what areas they think should be improved. In summary, the analysis should focus on the total organization and should tell you (1) where training is needed and (2) where it will work within the organization.
Once you have determined where training is needed, concentrate on the content of the program. Analyze the characteristics of the job based on its description, the written narrative of what the employee actually does. Training based on job descriptions should go into detail about how the job is performed on a task-by-task basis. Actually doing the job will enable you to get a better feel for what is done.
The goals of the training program should relate directly to the needs determined by the assessment process outlined above. Course objectives should clearly state what behavior or skill will be changed as a result of the training and should relate to the mission and strategic plan of the company. Goals should include milestones to help take the employee from where he or she is today to where the firm wants him or her in the future. Setting goals helps to evaluate the training program and also to motivate employees. Allowing employees to participate in setting goals increases the probability of success.
The company’s history and mission.
The key members in the organization.
The key members in the department, and how the department helps fulfill the mission of the company.
Personnel rules and regulations.
Some companies use verbal presentations while others have written presentations. Many small businesses convey these topics in one-on-one orientations. No matter what method is used, it is important that the newcomer understand his or her new place of employment.
Lectures present training material verbally and are used when the goal is to present a great deal of material to many people. It is more cost effective to lecture to a group than to train people individually. Lecturing is one-way communication and as such may not be the most effective way to train. Also, it is hard to ensure that the entire audience understands a topic on the same level; by targeting the average attendee you may undertrain some and lose others. Despite these drawbacks, lecturing is the most cost-effective way of reaching large audiences.
Role playing and simulation are training techniques that attempt to bring realistic decision making situations to the trainee. Likely problems and alternative solutions are presented for discussion. The adage there is no better trainer than experience is exemplified with this type of training. Experienced employees can describe real world experiences, and can help in and learn from developing the solutions to these simulations. This method is cost effective and is used in marketing and management training.
Audiovisual methods such as television, videotapes and films are the most effective means of providing real world conditions and situations in a short time. One advantage is that the presentation is the same no matter how many times it’s played. This is not true with lectures, which can change as the speaker is changed or can be influenced by outside constraints. The major flaw with the audiovisual method is that it does not allow for questions and interactions with the speaker, nor does it allow for changes in the presentation for different audiences.
In-house training is the daily responsibility of supervisors and employees. Supervisors are ultimately responsible for the productivity and, therefore, the training of their subordinates. These supervisors should be taught the techniques of good training. They must be aware of the knowledge and skills necessary to make a productive employee. Trainers should be taught to establish goals and objectives for their training and to determine how these objectives can be used to influence the productivity of their departments. They also must be aware of how adults learn and how best to communicate with adults. Small businesses need to develop their supervisors’ training capabilities by sending them to courses on training methods. The investment will pay off in increased productivity
There are several ways to select training personnel for off-the-job training programs. Many small businesses use in-house personnel to develop formal training programs to be delivered to employees off line from their normal work activities, during company meetings or individually at prearranged training sessions.
There are many outside training sources, including consultants, technical and vocational schools, continuing education programs, chambers of commerce and economic development groups. Selecting an outside source for training has advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that these organizations are well versed in training techniques
An effective training program administrator should follow these steps:
Define the organizational objectives.
Determine the needs of the training program.
Define training goals.
Develop training methods.
Decide whom to train.
Decide who should do the training.
Administer the training.
Evaluate the training program.