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.