Employee training is a necessity. You need to get new hires up to speed as quickly as possible so they can become productive members of your team. And you want to update the skills of existing employees so they'll be ready for you to implement new technology, develop new processes and acquire new markets.
You may be able to do much of the training yourself--at a significant cost in time, of course. Your more experienced employees are also good sources of training, either on the job or in more formal, off-site sessions held in lunchrooms or classrooms. You can save time--but not money--if you hire third-party trainers to conduct classroom sessions. Inexpensive, easily repeated training can be found in video-based courses, computer-assisted instruction, and Web-based training.
Whatever training mode you go with, here are keys to developing a good training strategy:
- Start by asking yourself what you want your people to learn. Be as specific as possible. ("I want my evening shift workers to be able to use Microsoft Excel to update the day's sales figures.")
- Assess your employees' current skill levels. Evaluate the gap between where you want to be and where you are.
- Select one of the training modes described above, based on your time and financial budget. Do not forget to budget for downtime and lost production while class is in session.
- Decide who knows the topic best. It may be you, your veteran employees or a third-party trainer.
- Design a training program. It should call for imparting information to trainees, giving them time to absorb and try out their lessons, providing expert feedback, and giving them a chance to be creative.
Don't forget to make the training enjoyable--even fun. And if you get stuck on what to do about any of these training issues, ask the trainees. Your employees may know more than you give them credit for.