Developing a Training Plan

Human Resource Development is critical to the success of organizations today.  Development can be approached from many angles, but one of the key approaches used is that of training and development.

In many organizations, training and development occurs on an ad hoc basis, in that there is no structured approach.  Employees may see something advertised in the newspaper, express interest in attending and that is it.  While this may be fine once in a while, it is certainly not the ideal way to approach such a necessary component of employees’ development.

The development of a company-wide training and development plan seeks to streamline efforts and align training initiatives with the short, medium and long term needs of the organization.  Training and Development can be used in a strategic manner for enhancing skills in anticipation of new technology, to cater for succession planning or to optimize workforce efficiency and reduce costs due to wastage or errors.

There are four basic steps involved in creating a plan; these include analysis of the business environment, identification of training needs, planning of the training and evaluation of the effectiveness of the plan.

Analysis of the business environment includes both internal and external factors.  Internally the vision, mission, organizational culture, core values, human resource development philosophies, executive management buy-in, budgetary constraints should be considered.  On the external side, the national, regional and international climate (PESTLE – political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental) would impact on the development of the plan.

As we see in our world today, changes are taking place at a rapid pace and it is difficult to predict what will be next, so all the more reason for taking the time to think of the impact of these factors on your organizations.

Training Needs Identification can be informed by corporate strategies, short, medium and long-term divisional, departmental or unit goals, career paths, development as outlined through the performance management process and by analyzing jobs, competencies required and associated tasks.  The gaps in current performance whether these be financial, quantitative, qualitative should be noted in the development of specific programmes.  The Human Resource Information System can also be used in determining who needs training and in what areas.  The Succession Plan for the organization would also highlight those individuals targeted for promotion and any gaps that can be closed by training.

In finalizing the actual plan, all the information gathered from steps on and two needs to be reviewed and considered carefully in determining priorities and in recognizing any economies of scale that can be achieved across the organization.  The learning objectives or desired outcomes from the training should be the starting point as these would dictate the content and delivery that would be most appropriate.  In some instances classroom training would be ideal in others e-learning including Computer Based Training might be more appropriate and at other times a blended approach to learning would yield maximum results.  The outcomes required should be specified in terms of cost, quality, quantity, specific behaviours and time so that tangible measurement of improvements would be possible.

The resources available in terms of availability, suitability and cost must be balanced against the desired outcomes.  Evaluation of facilitators and final selection would occur once the plan is approved.  In working with the facilitators selected, Human Resources should ensure that employees’ various learning styles are taken into consideration in the development of the actual presentation of the material.  Groups can be formed to tackle similar training needs such as Computer training at a basic level.  Formal and informal methods of training should be incorporated.  Customised training can have a great impact as the organisation’s specific situations can be taken into account.  Generic programmes can have benefits as well, as employees may participate more and get more out of the experience.  In all instances it is beneficial to ensure that resources are optimized.

What is the use of having wonderful training programmes, designed to meet the needs of the organization and not measuring the effectiveness or determining the impact of the training on the bottom line.  This is where Human Resource Professionals need to step up their game and ensure that they can justify the implementation of these programmes.  If you can tell management that they will save a specific amount of money by the reduction in wastage, you are more likely to have your training budget approved, than if you say the employees will learn a lot.  Some organizations set a target of their Human Resource budget for training eg. 3 – 5%.  This is a good idea.

We all know of Donald Kirkpatrick’s Model for evaluating training effectiveness which consists of the measurement of four levels, reactions, learning, transfer and results.  We need to move from the smiley sheet at the end of each training session to more meaningful results oriented evaluations.  Metrics that can be tracked and included in monthly or quarterly reports include the Training Investment Factor (total training cost/headcount) and ROTI (Return on Training Investment) which is the total benefit derived less the cost to develop and deliver times 100.

Bianca Attong

Small Money and Big Training Needs

In today’s Trinidad Daily Express (14th October 2008), there is an article that speaks to the Inter-American Development Bank’s agreement to loan local companies US$6 billion. The IDB noted that the origin of economic crisis is outside of the Latin American and Caribbean region but can have potentially serious repercussions. They feel the need to protect the strides made by countries in the region to promote growth and reduce poverty.

Against this backdrop of a looming world economic crisis, companies need to be increasingly innovative in the use of scarce resources to remain viable.

How do we as Human Resource Professionals address these challenges? We have a situation where we are increasingly unable to pay market prices for talent that can hit the ground running with minimal training. Hence, we are often forced to compromise on the quality of hire and recruit the more inexperienced candidates (maybe inconsistent with our espoused people philosophy) with an intention to train to perform the job.

Then we run into another challenge: “where do we find the funds necessary to train?” One idea is to incorporate the concept of an internal faculty into the company’s training philosophy.

An internal faculty is based on using the internal employees who are experts in their fields or possess other skills and talents to train the employees with performance gaps.

HR can review the training needs assessments to determine the different interventions required and then match that with the internal skills inventory of the employees. HR can identify potential candidates for the internal faculty and provide them with guidelines, roles, expectations, outcomes, amount of volunteer time required etc. The potential candidates can then decide if they are willing to assist.

This provides an avenue for the employees to communicate and get to know each other as a networking opportunity. It also affords the experienced employees an opportunity to be recognised, showcase their knowledge and share it with other employees in a structured manner.  More importantly, it decreases the cash out flow due to training and supposedly minimises the training gap. There are some concerns with this approach as one maybe unsure about the quality of training being delivered or the manner it maybe delivered.

In addition to benefiting from the company’s internal faculty, one can also investigate offers of free training. For example, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago provides free lectures, workshops and seminars aimed at educating the public on finance. The Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Trinidad has a free seminar on October 22nd 2008 entitled “The Economic Partnership Agreement”. The National Insurance Board and the Board of Inland Revenue all have free seminars on national benefits and income tax laws respectively.

If the company must seek an external vendor to provide necessary training, always negotiate group rates with agreements on key training outcomes.

Developing an Internal faculty, exploration of free sessions and skilled negotiations are just a few ways to address some of the challenges that may be coming our way or for some of us the challenges are already in our back yard.

Denise Ali


The Not-So-Diverse Caribbean Workplace

The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the September issue of FirstCuts, the monthly ezine for Framework Consulting.

The topic surrounds a contentious issue — the diversity of our workplaces with respect to differences in sexual orientation.  The full article, along with public comments, can be found at

Here is an excerpt:

The Not-So-Diverse Caribbean Workplace
Global opinion is growing: the Caribbean is increasingly seen as one of the least inclusive, intolerant and unsupportive regions of the world as it relates to the matter of “differences.” The term “difference” is a fairly new one to the Caribbean workplace and it generally applies to obvious aspects such as race, gender, age,
religion, physical ability, etc. However, our international reputation is largely being tainted by our strident relationship to gays and homosexuality.

By extension, Caribbean companies and executives are not exactly seen as world leaders in the context of business tolerance.

The fact is that many of our territories’ populations have relatively little day-to-day exposure to people of other races, nationalities and beliefs. The tendency is to speak single languages as relatively few of our companies conduct business in other countries, even within the region. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few nights in a hotel in the vicinity of Times Square and I was reminded of what it was like to be surrounded by people of backgrounds different from mine and languages from all corners of the globe. We simply don’t have the kind of diversity that is influencing the way the world’s most admired companies relate to people who are “different.”

It might be no mistake that the CEO of Jamaica’s largest company, the Government, recently announced to the international public that he is unwilling to accept gays at the highest levels of his organization.

When asked in a recent BBC interview if he would allow gays to take up senior government positions, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding, replied emphatically, “Not in my cabinet!” I might be wrong in thinking that he is not the only CEO/Prime Minister/Chairman to have these views in the region.
While he may be the only CEO with these views, the effect of his words are far-reaching, as presumably they must have some impact on the entire Government of Jamaica, which coincidentally is the
largest employer in Jamaica. (The link to the interview is given in the next section.)

Clearly, his idea of an inclusive, diverse workplace has its limits.

If he is seen as a typical representative of a “regional CEO,” what are the pros and cons to companies when executives adopt this approach either publicly or privately? What does it mean for business and what is its impact on stock-holders, employees, customers and other stakeholders? Even though the societal
impacts are many, here in FirstCuts I will only focus on the impact his words and our attitudes, may have on the financial success of our corporations.

To read the full article, see

Subscriptions are free, and can be initiated with an email to [email protected]

Francis Wade


Mentorship and Its Benefits

Mentoring is a career development method whereby less experienced employees are matched with more experienced colleagues for guidance either through formal or informal programmes.  Most CEO’s you speak with, will say that they are where they are because they got guidance or advice from some other experienced individuals this most likely was through an informal mentoring relationships.  In fact these relationships often continue for their entire careers.

There are many advantages for both the mentor and the mentee or protégé in both formal and informal mentoring relationships.  I have worked in an organization where there was a formal mentorship programme and the benefits were quite evident.  The excitement, enthusiasm and commitment generated had immediate positive impact.  The mentees were young and most were new to the world of work.  So, having experienced employees to help them overcome obstacles showed that the organization was serious about them and committed to their future and success.

Benefits for the mentee include job related coaching and counseling, a better orientation and induction into a new organizational culture, more intimate knowledge of the organization and its operations, the potential for networking opportunities, the ability to reach full potential at a faster rate and the mentor’s personal experience in similar situations.

The mentor also gains from the relationship.  To share and guide another individual on a path to success is a truly rewarding feeling.  Also the mentor’s commitment and loyalty to the organization are enhanced through the experience.  Of course, they must be willing to make the relationship work, by dedicating time to the role and providing timely feedback.

All organizations can benefit from the implementation of such a programme.  The areas of recruitment, retention, human resource development and culture are all impacted.  Programmes can be informal, that is a basic outline is presented and employees chart their own course through it.  Structured programmes which often include milestones for various phases of the relationship and deliberate matching of mentors and protégés take more effort, but the rewards can be significantly increased.

There is a lot of material out there, so starting a programme is not that difficult for those with limited resources.  For larger organizations the programme can be implemented through the use of a trained facilitator.  In these challenging economic times, organizations, guided by Human Resources have to make the effort to keep valuable employees; an informal mentorship programme may be one such avenue.

1Definition from Society for Human Resource Management Knowledge Centre

The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Effective Mentoring, Dr. Norman Cohen
Making the Most of Being Mentored, Gordon F. Shea

Bianca Attong

Health and Human Resources

Current issues in the newspaper refer to poor public health services, serious traffic congestion, spiralling crime rate and double digit inflation. What can we do as Human Resource Professionals to assist our employees in dealing with the current socio-economic conditions?

The newspapers have numerous articles on the public health care services in Trinidad, where citizens are reporting on the poor services received and the medical professionals reporting on the staff shortage, poor facilities, equipment and scarce resources and where the Government, by way of the Minister of Health has continued to debate these allegations.

In today’s Trinidad Daily Express (September 30th 2008), there are two articles that refer to poor health care. One article refers to lack of follow up when baby Justin Paul was burnt in his incubator at Mt Hope Maternity Hospital. Another article speaks to a young boy’s scholarship achievement and he attributes his inspiration and choice of study (maxillofacial surgery) to his brother who suffers with cerebral palsy. His brother has been placed on awaiting list for surgery for three years at Mt Hope, so he hopes to be qualified to reconstruct his brother’s jaw.

How do we protect our employees from suffering similar fate? Quite often, the view to these issues tend to be one-dimensional but it should be noted that a 360 approach may yield substantial results in the long term health of our employees.

We can explore making arrangements with private health institutions and our health insurance providers to ensure our employees get the care needed with the adequate health care coverage. We have negotiated to increase our major medical limit to five million renewable over three years. Also, review the preventative schedule of benefits to ensure adequacy and or acceptability against the premiums being paid. The key recommendation is to discuss needs and costs with the various stakeholders to get the best deal possible to assist employees in times of a medical emergency.

Another option is to organise a subsidised or free vaccination programme within your organisation for the employees. This may encourage employees to get vaccinated since they would not have to be inconvenienced to visit the local health centre and they can enjoy decreased costs or none at all. This preventative measure may result in decreased absenteeism levels.

We can also encourage our employees to live healthy lives to avoid lifestyle diseases. There are some diseases we may be predisposed too and others we may increase the probability of its occurrence when we smoke, drink alcohol excessively, lack of exercise, improper diet, excessive stress and the like. We can engage the services of a nutritionist and or a dietician to assist our employees and their families with eating right. We can also subsidise the fees to attend a local gym to encourage exercise.

An employee assistance provider (EAP) can also be quite helpful by targeting stress areas and also by providing therapy sessions on an individual basis for those that may need it. The EAP is a great network of resources that can be tapped to help improve our employee’s ability to capitalise on day to day character building opportunities.

Many articles have been written on the benefits of a mother’s breast milk to her baby; yet, we ask that our new mothers return to work after three months of giving birth. Returning to a workplace that provides a private area or at least twenty minutes to express breast milk would encourage a new mother to express milk to feed her baby and thus decrease the probability of partial or full transition to formula. Breast milk is said to improve the health of the baby and a healthy baby means that the mummy will spend less time worrying or by the Paediatrician and more productive time at the office. This may also re bound to the claims made against the company’s health plan and thus improves the claims loss ratio.

One final suggestion is a committee that is focussed on encouraging healthy lives, bodies and mind. At Guardian, we have a committee called “Life Pulse” and the committee promotes healthy living through hosting fun walks/runs, hosting various health weeks, where employees can get screened for specific illnesses, sight tests, cholesterol tests, blood sugar testing, blood pressure testing and the like.

The above are merely a few ideas and suggestions to provide care to our employees. The suggestions may serve to build employee commitment and engagement where employees exercise increasing levels of discretionary behaviour and result in improved productivity.

Denise Ali