8 Easy Steps to Hit Your Training Goal

Jun 9 • Jeff Lunz Articles, Management and Leadership • 4988 Views • No Comments on 8 Easy Steps to Hit Your Training Goal

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MANY ORGANISATIONS IN CHINA ARE INVESTING incredible amounts of time and money into their training programs. You might imagine that this would guarantee success. However, that is not always the case. The pace of change in China means that many of these programs are often hastily devised and poorly executed without too much thought being given to stakeholders or the strategic objectives of the firm. This means that a program designed to fix a minor problem can often act as a catalyst for other issues and can create behaviours amongst employees that are not aligned with the company’s strategic goals.

8 Steps to Hit Your Training Goals
1. Align training with company values
2. Create buy-in from line managers
3. Identify the need and purpose of the training
4. Educate trainees about benefits/Create buy-in
5. Quality control the process
6. Deliver training
7. Reinforce training
8. Follow up

When preparing and designing a training plan, your goal is to create a program that satisfies all stakeholders. A simple way to do this is by following these eight easy steps:

1. Align training with company values, culture, and strategic objectives

Would you buy a bikini for your trip to the Harbin Ice-Festival? Of course not, it would be a complete waste of time and money. Similarly, why would you spend thousands of RMB to supply your employees with training that was not in line with the core objectives and values of your company? Unfortunately, this simple consideration is often overlooked. This is usually because organisations plunge head-first into their training programs without clearly expressing their values and objectives. A simple conversation with your GM or CEO to clarify these will help save resources and remind everyone of the strategic nature of the training.

Stephen Covey in his world-renowned book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ outlines one particularly useful habit that you should try to adopt when planning your training – “starting with the end in mind”. What greater way to conceive a program than by thinking about where, what and who we hope our employees to be in two, three or five years. What are the competencies that they will need, and after this, work in reverse to construct training programs that will help them get there.

2. Create buy-in from line managers

If line managers don’t believe in the training, they will not encourage the behaviours that the training has intended to develop. One of the reasons this apathy can occur is because line managers are not involved in the process. Whether it be through line-manager surveys before the training, or updates on what their staff learned after the training has been completed, it is important to be sensitive to this segment of your organisation. With an increasingly competitive job-market, and universities producing savvier graduates, it is not surprising that managers might react negatively to training, especially when there is no transparency – they might even feel that their jobs are at risk!

3. Identify the need and purpose of the training

Often, especially in China, the pace and speed of business makes us want to be able to transform employees overnight. Unfortunately, personal development and organisational changes take a great deal of time and investment. Therefore, conceive programs where outcomes are detailed and specific to current working conditions. SMART goals are a good place to start, both from a HR standpoint and for the trainees themselves. Look at the difference between the following two goals:

(a) “This training is designed to reduce teleconferences from one-hour to 45 minutes.”
(b) “This training is designed to help us have more productive teleconferences.”

The first option is specific, and shows a clear outcome. The second is too vague. Make your training as clear as possible.

4. Educate trainees about benefits/Create buy-in

Training has several benefits. However, one that is often ignored until the exit interview is as a form of compensation. The sheer budget of many training departments indicates that many organisations are providing massive amounts of training. However, time after time, trainees feel that this training is a ‘requirement’ or simply a day away from the office, rather than something they see as a reward. In order for the full effect of training to be realised, programs and courses must be adequately promoted and communicated to the trainees as a benefit. Spend one hour this month thinking about how you are promoting your efforts and how you can more effectively utilise the tools at your disposal.

5. Quality control the process

Many companies regularly invest money in ‘experts’ who are paid top dollar to fly to China and deliver programs. These experts often receive poor feedback from trainees who felt disengaged throughout the training because the course shared no similarities to what they encounter in their day to day work here in China. When discussing a program, consider if you fall into the trap of mistaking ‘the best’ for the most suitable trainer. If so, the questions below are a good start to making sure your trainees’ needs are being met.

(a) Are the trainees of the same level?
(b) Does the trainer understand the trainees?
(c) Does the trainer understand the local culture?

6. Deliver training

Now, deliver the training.

7. Reinforce training

Value-added elements to training are more and more in demand these days as companies want to see more bang for their buck. Many companies are offering online courses, follow-up sessions, and a range of assessment services to help monitor and promote the application of skills once the trainees return to their jobs. In addition, remember that each department and each trainee’s needs are different. So, think about how these reinforcements can be integrated into everyday work situations and challenges.

8. Follow up

Course surveys are often filled out hastily in the last ten minutes of the training. By this time, trainees have grown weary, and will tick any box before rushing out and heading home. The most valuable feedback will come from trainees and line-managers, the next day or even later when they can reflect on the training. In addition to the timing, try to keep the feedback positive by asking questions like, ”What can we do to improve the training, and how can we better meet your needs in the future?” rather than “What was wrong with the training?” This will ensure that the trainee is always left with a positive image, while you do get feedback that can improve the program in the future.

Taking time to review these eight steps prior to each course you deliver will help maintain standards and guarantee that your training is valuable to all stakeholders, as well as simultaneously enhancing the profile of your company’s training department.

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