Staff Training: Part of the Strategic Plan
Survival in a tough economy is not a matter of chance, but rather a matter of careful strategic planning and thorough reassessment of current practices. Competitive strategies need to be developed, and they need to go far beyond just staying afloat. A critical part of the process includes a long hard look at how we deal with staff training each year. We are presented with the rare opportunity to review and revamp how we look at staff development and education. Given the circumstances, organizations would be remiss not to take advantage of this opportunity.
One fact about this economic crisis, and any other crisis, is that organizations cannot completely stop training staff, just as we cannot just stop marketing, or stop spending altogether. We just need to be very precise on how we do these things, and be diligent during the implementation of our revised plans.
Carelessly cutting budgets without carefully considering mid- and long-term impact on productivity and profitability is just as dangerous as wasting money when the times are good. This is not the right time to act with an axe, but rather with the precision of a scalpel. Instead of giving in to fear and anxiety, leadership teams and managers need to take these three key steps:
- Determine your business objectives and realign your staff education goals.
- Take purpose-driven steps to eliminate waste.
- Reinforce, remediate, and retool.
Realignment and business objectives
Take a look at your organization’s business goals and check to see if your education programs are aligned to help you meet those goals.
For example, if one of your goals is to improve profitability by reducing billing errors by 3% each quarter, you should have a supporting educational solution that addresses the most common billing mistakes your team members run into.
If on the other hand you find that billing staff are enrolled in advanced courses to learn more about how to use Microsoft Office software, you may need to realign your training needs and budget accordingly.
You must answer these questions:
- Are our educational programs and offerings directly related to any of our business goals?
- Are these educational offerings helping us meet or exceed our objectives?
- What learning offerings are we lacking in order to help our staff meet or exceed our objectives?
One item that is easily forgotten at the start of the year is that there may be updates or changes that require just-in-time training interventions. You should allocate a portion of your budget to education programs designed to maintain necessary updates in order to avoid a last minute crunch.
Take purpose-driven steps to eliminate waste
Next comes looking at dispensing with all unnecessary training, and seeking more efficient ways to deliver and even develop training.
E-learning and other methods of distance and asynchronous learning may be better suited to today’s conditions.
Furthermore, the development of training may be best left for outsourced resources rather than internal staff and managers, who need to focus on other aspect of the business.
Reinforce, remediate, and retool
In times of difficulty, stress sets in, and staff are more likely to be distracted and make mistakes. Your goals and objectives need to be supported by an ongoing developmental support plan that includes coaching, informal learning, and re-training. There are 3 reasons for re-training.
- You need to reinforce best practices, so that the best performers continue to operate at peak performance despite the circumstances.
- You also need to correct and remediate any performance errors and improve low productivity. Remedial training efforts can help improve both areas.
- Finally, you need to account for lost jobs. Many employees now need to cover for others who have lost their jobs, while they perform their own regular duties. These staff members need retooling training to support their confidence and to ensure they are prepared for their new work demands.