The first step is getting buy-in from your leaders.
By Brad Karsh, President, JB Training Solutions
Providing training for your employees is one thing, but instilling a training culture at your organization is quite another. I’ve conducted (literally) several hundred training workshops across the country, and the difference is truly astounding.
At some companies, training is an exciting, integral part of the workflow. During workshops, everyone is alert, happy to be there, and eager to learn. The hours fly by as everyone asks questions and encourages discussion.
At other companies, training is an inconvenience. Attendance is terrible, attendees are distracted and leave to take client calls, and participants are generally disengaged.
An organization can establish a world-class training program, but if it isn’t taken seriously, all of that careful planning is for naught.
Taking training to the next level at your organization may seem daunting, but a strong training culture canbe established. Here are my six steps for establishing a training culture to better your organization:
Start from the top. When management and senior leaders attend training first, a precedent is set for other employees to follow. By taking a top-down training approach, management and senior leaders can share their information with subordinates to get others excited and interested about attending training programs. Get buy-in from your leaders—this is a great way to establish training as a non-negotiable professional development opportunity.
Make training a reward. Static, mandatory training yields mediocre results and low engagement. Consider offering training as a reward to pump up employee morale and reward your high performers. A global survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that training and development is the most highly valued benefit for Millennials in the first five years of their career. One-third of respondents elected training and development as their first choice benefit (aside from salary). Leadership development training can be a tribute to a younger professional and a great way to encourage your star employees.
Communicate the importance of being present. As a manager, tell your employees that their only focus for the training session is to be present—physically and mentally. Clients, e-mails, and other projects can wait. Remember: You aren’t nearly as important as you think you are. If you step away from your desk, phone, and e-mail, the company will still be standing when you return from the workshop. If employees know the expectation is to pay full attention to the training, they will do so. It is imperative to encourage employees to take the time to learn, grow, and develop professionally.
Establish a support system. Many of our businesses are incredibly client focused, and when a client needs something, you want to get it to them right away. Encourage teams to pitch in for one another when a team member is in a training session. Participants will be much more focused and engaged in the training if they don’t have to stress out about missing an e-mail or call.
Make it fun and keep it relevant. Find out what your employees want. Survey your employees to discover their interests and development opportunities, and then find compelling programs that match their needs. As a manager, you can empower your employees by making them feel like they’ve had a hand in creating and deciding the focus for the training workshops. When training is fun and relevant, attendees will wantto be there.
Follow up and keep the learning points top of mind. Training cannot end when the workshop concludes. Follow up by leading conversations one-on-one with employees on topics discussed in the training. Conduct a lunch and learn to expand on key points from the workshop. You can easily find Webinars, e-learning, and books on related topics to solidify key points and further enhance the training culture at your organization.
Brad Karsh is president and lead trainer at JB Training Solutions, which offers interactive programs to assist professionals in achieving success in the workplace. moved into HR, where he was responsible for hiring and training hundreds of employees. He has worked with companies including Abbott Laboratories, Quaker, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Redbox, and GATX. Prior to starting JB Training Solutions, Karsh spent 15 years at advertising giant Leo Burnett in Chicago. He began his career in account management, working on clients including McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, and Pillsbury. For information, visit http://www.jbtrainingsolutions.com.