The wise farmer never stops sending children to school because there is a drought!

I will start off by not disputing the fact that there are some farmers who are not as wise in this regard. Then I will ask, so why do you stop developing the skills of your management and staff during tough times?

The Problem with Stagnation in Human Capital Development is that if your members of staff stop growing, your business will follow suit – no rocket science there. Unstructured cuts on training and development budgets can result in the serious compromise of your service quality, internal customer relations, loss of competitive edge – it is like trying to stop the venom from an ankle snake bite, from reaching the brain, by tying a noose around your neck and attaching it to a powered pulley. There must be a strategy for any re-organising initiative should it become necessary, especially during an Economic Drought. Training is about investing now, in the framing and sustainability of the future you desire. Whatever you do – keep on developing your staff and management. So here are some useful tips to help you structure your human capital development strategy. Most of the times, you will need a combination of these and they must be clearly spelt out in your Training Policy.

TRAINING ON-THE-JOB

Sitting next to Nelly – Who is doing your on-the-job training?

If you still get a new employee, dump them at a desk and start barking out instructions, demanding their performance, then you are likely going to be disappointed by the end result. You must have a documented program and procedure for on-the-job training, this can include the following:

  • Overview of the department
  • Signed-off Job Description indicating Key Performance Indicators
  • Details of the training program, people responsible for the training and time frame
  • Key reports and job outcomes, including frequency
  • Every new employee must have a designated mentor to guide them through the process and to ensure the organisation’s expectations and their own learning needs are met.

Remember: It is not every technical expert who can impart knowledge effectively – so make sure those who will be responsible for training others on-the-job, have adequate skills and tools to impart knowledge and skills. Invest in a “Train-the-Trainer” program if necessary.

Computer-based solutions

Sometimes it can help to have a customized computer-based training program that will allow staff to go through expected training at their own pace. A test can then be done on the computer and a certificate of completion printed. This will help you track which employees have knowledge of what areas. The types of courses and areas covered must be always guided by your training needs analysis process.

OUT-SOURCING

It is not always the case, that an organisation will have the training skills and facilities best suited to develop human capital. A proper SWOT analysis will reveal to you, the areas you can train using internal resources and those areas that need to be addressed by the skills found outside the organisation.

When outsourcing, make sure you will get value for your investment. Remember the courses you have attended and came back feeling you could have made a better presentation? Sometimes presenters can be highly qualified and experienced as practitioners in their area of specialty – but remember, this will not guarantee their capacity to impart knowledge to others.

This means you need to:

  1. Consider the track record of the external partners, especially with regards to impartation of knowledge in the subject area
  2. Consider the relevance of training content
  3. Wherever possible, get training content customized for your needs
  4. Check the experience of the facilitators – if necessary ask for their profile or CV
  5. Be wary of incentives that just increase your cost, but not addressing any performance gaps.

DEVELOPING IN-HOUSE INTERVENTIONS

Training Centre

Setting up your own training facilities is only wise if you have the resources, as it can be expensive. The cost of setting up, staffing, equipping and then recurring maintenance costs will need you to have a sound and sustainable business. Make sure you employ the best at what they do, and be prepared to invest in continuous development of both the facility and the work force. Avoid taking those you no longer need in operations and dump them in the training centre. Any organisation not serious about the importance of the human resources development aspect at a strategic level, should never invest in a training centre.

Having a training facility does not mean you will cease to outsource. It just means you can now develop more customized programs, plan and structure them in a way that best suits your strategy. It will always be your needs and your SWOT processes, that must dictate whether you need to outsource or you have the internal resources to address identified gaps.

Bench-mark with the best in the corporate world and ensure you get value from the training programs. As managers grow into leadership roles, their schedules sometimes begin to force them to down grade training as a priority – your own training facility, with serious attention from executive management and a vibrant training policy – will help address this and related challenges.

Also use your training facility for thorough induction programs. I have seen the danger of wanting the new hire to start producing immediately, at the expense of helping them buy into the culture and vision of the organisation. Induction programs must be used as the seeding ground for executives, where they drill the culture-seeds and rub-off the vision’s pollen grains onto new staff members. Why do you expect a honeymoon if you can afford to miss your own wedding – if you are executives, don’t leave induction programs to the junior members of staff. Let them coordinate, but become the performers. Then your other systems can take over to reinforce your values and culture through your daily conduct of business.

Library

I will continue to be an advocate for a library in every organisation, including adding the reading aspect on the employee’s scorecard or objectives. Encourage a culture of further reading and development by stocking books, magazines, DVDs and CDs in areas relevant to the various departments you may have. To help with research, you can include, on your library section or desk, a few computers with internet access for employees who might not have access, depending on your ICT policy.

Expert Presentations

  • Send your staff and management to get exposure whenever an expert in their area is presenting.
  • If you can afford, invite experts to address specific areas of need in line with your strategic thrust.
  • Use the experts you have internally, to make brief presentations on specific topics so that there is an ongoing skills update in your organisation.

Lastly, if you are worried about ways to reduce your costs,

ONE SMART WAY TO REDUCE YOUR COSTS

Quality Recruitment and Selection

One of the shortest routes to reducing training costs is to have a robust Recruitment and Selection process. And this starts from knowing what you are looking for as an organisation. Which key results need to be delivered, what experience, skills & qualifications will be capable to deliver them, what attitude or emotional intelligence competences will fit-in with your culture and how are you going to identify these? So your recruitment and selection tools and processes must be suited to deliver the best candidate for your vacancy.

If you do this and you succeed in getting the hiring right, you will reduce training related costs as you will not need to fill performance gaps time and again, reduced disputes, lower chances of losing business and legal costs due to incompetence and eliminate cost of re-hiring for the same job.

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Until next time, Remember Employees will only take training seriously, if senior management takes a serious approach to this investment. Have a Smart Way To Manage Your Training & Development Costs – BUT Keep On Developing Your Management and Staff. Your Growth & Profitability Depends on Training. Follow the Wise Farmer, Send Them To School and Harvest Your Success!

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