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Training

Will Training Help Improve Employee Performance?

First, do you really need training at your company? Second, should it be sourced internally or externally?
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Entrepreneurs, Small Business Experts, Consultants, Speakers

There are thousands of reasons to train and develop employees. New employees need to understand how to perform the required work. Current employees need to keep their skills sharp.

Changes in technology, new product introductions or modifications to policies and procedures are all reasons for training. 

Related: 4 Ways to Train Employees Effectively

A major portion of our careers has focused on creating effective workforces. As you might guess, we are huge proponents of training and developing workers. Well-trained staffers produce higher quality work, less scrap and less wasted time. They're better prepared for future challenges and additional roles in your organization.

However, all reasons for focusing on workforce development boil down to performance. We've previously written two of a five-part series on ways to improve employee performance in your organization. These paths include include providing clear objectives, removing roadblocks internal to the company, emphasizing training and development, motivating staffers and coming to grips with an employee unable or unwilling to perform.

Doug often says that business is about figuring out what to do and getting people to do it. Therefore, concentrating on those two goals makes good business sense. Here'll, we 'll address the third lever business owners and managers can pull: training.

First, though, a word of warning: Training and development is not always the answer. Don’t get pulled into the trap that says, "If my employees are underperforming, I should provide more training." Instead, first ask the following questions to determine why employees underperform. 

  1. What are my employees doing or not doing that is causing the issue in my organization?
  2. Do the employees know how to perform that specific action/process/procedure?
  3. Have the employees been given enough time to become proficient?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then training is not the solution. Look to the four other possibilities in this series for your solution.

But if the answer to your questions is no, then ask this question: "Exactly what do I want my employees to be able to do differently as a result of the training? Do they need to recognize quality problems, answer customer questions more completely and accurately, garner more sales?

Once you have analyzed the need, determine the "make or buy decision." Do you have the skills and resources to provide the training internally, or would it make more sense to engage resources outside of your organization to develop and/or deliver the training?

Related: 4 Secrets Behind the Best Employee Training

Training that's internal to the organization

Many organizations provide new employee orientation and on-the-job (OTJ) training. Training normally consists of one or more experienced employees passing on her/ his knowledge to the newcomer.

Since smaller organizations often don’t have well-documented processes, the success of such programs may vary. Training depends on the skills of the experienced employee to deliver correct and consistent information. Even when a process is in place, most internal OTJ and orientation programs we've seen have no clear objectives and do not measure outcomes.

If a new employee fails to “catch on,” the student is often blamed, not the teacher or the training itself.

An example: We worked with a broker-dealer in Philadelphia. The investment advisors complained about the inconsistencies in the company's employees' performance. Sometimes those employees executed their trades in two days, and sometimes it took them five or more days to execute. Mistakes were the norm.

Through our analysis, we found that what employees believed to be "the process" depended completely on who had initially trained them. So, we took action, developing clear processes; we assigned internal resources to retrain the back office staff. This solved the immediate problem, as well as created a consistent process for future training.

Such internal training can be highly effective, but requires that organization leadership determine training objectives, develop processes/curriculum and deliver the information in a way that maximizes the probability that employee will perform in the desired way.

Internal training also requires that outcomes be evaluated. Determining whether or not the organization has the time and the expertise to develop and deliver these programs is critical to the organizatin's overall success.

Training that's external to the organization

Sometimes it makes sense to bring in outside resources. Organizations can use human resource development (HRD) professionals in a variety of ways:

Related: Online Training For Employees Is Consistent and Will Save You Cash

Whether you decide to assess needs, develop and deliver your training internally or use the skills of an expert to help with some or all of the process, your focus should be on increasing the skills and performance of the employee. If you concentrate on outcomes, your training will benefit your organization. (Next: employee motivation).