2017 has come to an end, and many executives are formulating goals for 2018. Sales forecasts and budget allocations are vital to pin down, but the biggest factor of success can often be traced to the progress and performance of employees. What types of training initiatives are going to create a company that is fundamentally better and more profitable next year than it is today?
Nailing this down will foster an environment that encourages employees to strive for their full potential and keep them engaged in the job. That optimizes performance of the team you already have in place and reduces turnover so you are not constantly struggling with the time and cost of getting new employees up and running.
The best way to develop a path forward and keep on track all year is to develop a training calendar. To optimize the transformative changes that can be made in your company’s culture and performance, employ these four tips.
1. Create a Targeted ThemeThe theme that guides your training efforts for the year should be inclusive and encapsulate the goals you hope to accomplish. Its purpose is to help everyone stay focused on targeted outcomes and connect employees across the organizational chart. Use language that is easily understood by everyone and unites team members across silos. A great place to start on developing a theme is identifying the needs from all levels of the organization. Talk to executives and team members, consult HR, and look at exit interviews to isolate the biggest reasons employees cited this year for exiting the organization.
Be intentional in how the theme is constructed. Select a key area of focus instead of trying to achieve too many broad corporate goals simultaneously. Develop training efforts for the year that are relevant to the theme and empower employees to make progress toward achievements that are easily tied to it.
2. Define Success and Measure ItMany achievement goals, like enhanced leadership, are inherently soft and difficult to quantify, so clarify metrics for success that can be applied to both individuals and groups. Start by identifying the skills you hope to improve and then define how improvement is determined and measured. Consider what team members would also consider success. Motivation is a key determinant in how well adult learners absorb and retain information, so stick to metrics that most employees agree upon to get the highest levels of engagement from them.
Once success is clearly defined, create a plan to gather and analyze the data that will be used to understand if it was achieved. With this blueprint in hand, you will be equipped to assess outcomes at the end of the training calendar. Apply the lessons learned and use them as a starting point for developing the following year’s calendar.
3. Plan Around People First, Not BudgetsIt can be tempting for many organizations to determine what training looks like based upon how much money has been budgeted for it. This is actually backwards. Training goals should be devised exclusively around the skill gaps you are trying to overcome and the personal development you hope to see in employees. The best skill gaps to concentrate on are those that build upon existing expertise in the organization, are relevant to increasing success, and tap into learning areas that employees will be motivated to direct themselves in to supplement your training program.
The more you can prove that your training plan is solidly built around desired outcomes, and acknowledges existing gaps, the better your chances are of getting it funded. Don’t despair if you fail to receive all of the allocation you seek. There are many effective ways to train employees that fit a wide variety of budgets.
4. Achieve Buy-In for Successful ExecutionAny training plan is only as good as its execution. Clearly communicate the reasoning behind the new training calendar at all levels of the organization and highlight the gains it will help achieve. Explain which skills the calendar will cultivate and work to achieve buy-in on how that success is measured so everyone knows how to recognize success when it occurs.
Deployment of the program will go much smoother when you have widespread agreement in these areas. If you followed the first steps, this should be relatively simple to achieve. If you run into significant pushback, revisit where you went wrong and adjust course appropriately.
When it comes to your training calendar, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take the time to get it right at the start of the New Year so you can maximize the value of time spent boosting the performance of every employee, and achieve phenomenal results.