Do you have a staff training and development program?

Do you have staff training and development program?

Staff training and development is not restricted to progression planning; let’s face it, career progression is not always possible within an organisation or even wanted by all employees.

Training and development is about giving your employees the tools they need to be confident and happy within their roles. If you can achieve this, you will have less HR issues, less absenteeism and better retention . . . as well as capable, productive workers.

Even smaller businesses with one or two employees, will benefit greatly from taking a strategic approach to training their employees and the good news is you don’t necessarily need the resources of a large organisation to get it right.

At each stage of our progression with in a company, we have different needs and should be managed relative to our needs.

Employee progression

Newbies– These are your brand-new team members. They know little to nothing about the role, but that is ok, because that is our expectation and we are prepared for it. They are enthusiastic and highly motivated to learn their job and do well. We know that we need to put more work into showing them the ropes, focus on technical training and establishing the business’ culture within their work behaviours. We might need to monitor how their workplace relationships are developing.

We don’t ‘throw them in the deep end’; we spend time showing them the step by step processes and monitor them closely. We know they will make mistakes, but we manage the risk.

Newbie training and development may include;

  • An onboarding process and a Staff Training induction program
  • Skills training
  • Buddying with an expert or competent peer
  • Products and services training
  • Plenty of 1:1 time with their Supervisor
  • A high level of supervision and compliance checking

Apprentices– Depending on the complexity of the role, the capacity of the employee and the training and support they have received, it would be expected that Newbies will progress to the Apprentice stage in 3 to 6 months. This stage is actually the most challenging stage for Supervisors and employees and best practice is to move people through it as quickly as possible. This is the time when the employee is most likely to become disgruntled with their role and/or the company.

Apprentices don’t know their job well enough to reduce supervision. They are still learning, however they are starting to be more productive. Often, they get less support and training, which can result in a loss of enthusiasm. They may get overwhelmed with how much they still need to learn and they start to notice the aspects of the job they don’t like. They can get frustrated with their own progress or their Supervisor might be getting impatient with them. The training wheels are coming off, but it’s not always an easy transition. If you kick the training wheels off too soon, they will feel overwhelmed and unsupported. A continued focus on training and support is the best method for getting them through this stage – including a lot of positive feedback.

Apprentice training and development may include;

  • More advanced skills training
  • Products and services training
  • Probation meetings/performance reviews
  • Peer support
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • A high level of supervision

Productive Team Members– this is where the employee knows their role well enough to perform at least adequately. Whereas previously we needed to micro-manage them, we should now be giving them more space to do their job. Of course, we still monitor and support. We run the risk of making them feel unappreciated or untrusted if we micro-manage these team members too much.

They will now have a better understanding of their own training needs and can help guide you with this. Supervisors can now take on more of a coaching role than a training role.

Understanding the employee’s motivations will guide how you train, develop and manage this team member.

Productive Team Member training and development may include;

  • Advanced skills training
  • Specialised products and services training
  • Personal development – soft skills
  • Performance reviews
  • Additional responsibilities
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Team building activities
  • Rewards programs
  • Recognition of capacity activities such as getting them to run toolbox meetings
  • Include them in project teams and seek their feedback

Experts– this is not a level that all employees reach, but they are invaluable to your business. They know their job to a very high standard and sometimes even better than their managers. They are highly motivated and very productive. They love their job.

Experts are likely to be a key component of your succession planning, however you need to be careful you are not putting your motivations and expectations on them. I think we have all seen cases where the best employee is put into a leadership role that they don’t really want and aren’t suited to.

We can however gain value and recognise their expertise and experience through a variety of methods. While they may not be great leaders of people, they might be exceptional at inventing and implementing processes. They might be great at managing projects or training other team members. Your job as a manager is to understand their strengths and motivations so you can get the best win for the company and your expert employee.

We would NEVER micro-manage an Expert, but we still must always monitor performance and attitudes. Be a mentor, rather than a trainer to them. They will guide you on their needs and expectations, and you in turn can learn from them. It is now a relationship that is on a more equal footing, so your management style should reflect this.

Give and seek feedback and don’t assume they know you are happy with their work . . . continue to reward and recognise their performance.

Training and development for an Expert will usually be focused on the soft skills that their morphing role will need, such as project management training, leadership training, etc.

A note; employees who change roles within the organisation will go back to the ‘Newbie’ stage and their staff training and development will need to reflect this. 

Irrelevant to which stage they are in, every team member should have a training and development plan. It can be incorporated into performance review and recognition activities. If your employees see that you are investing in them, they will give back in kind.

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