How to improve training and development in an organization
In today's increasingly dynamic corporate landscape, the question "What can we do to make training and development better?" has never been more pertinent.
As we’re faced with the rise in technology and a new generation of employees who are becoming more vocal in their quest for meaningful work experiences and opportunities for growth, companies must re-evaluate their approach to employee satisfaction, engagement and talent acquisition.
Workers with technology literacy, versatility and creative problem-solving skills are in high demand. However, employers around the world are struggling to retain them.
The GETI 2021 report revealed that the most meaningful way to build resilience amidst the talent crisis is through staff training and development. Not only is this a vital element in securing employees for the long term, but it is also part of a growing list of demands from candidates across multiple industries.
For training and development to be truly effective, they must be designed with the employee in mind
Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, companies should look into personalised training content alternatives where the training materials are tailored to each employee’s needs and goals.
Personalised training sessions open up opportunities for employees to learn what they need at their level through a format that is most beneficial to them. Allowing them to absorb and retain information better.
While implementing a personalised training plan can be daunting, it becomes far more accessible when there is a desire to foster a company culture that promotes learning at every level within the company.
It’s also important to remember that some of the most impactful learning opportunities can happen outside of formally constructed employee training programs and through daily interactions between peers, managers and employees, and interdepartmental communication.
Below are five steps for how to improve learning and development in the workplace:
Learn more about your employees by communicating with them
To provide them with learning opportunities that are most relevant to their needs, managers must first understand the needs and goals of their employees. Asking questions in a relaxed setting is a great way to do this, as it lets employees express their opinions and communicate openly.
This can be done through informal one-on-one meetings with each team member. Use this time to check in on their progress, the projects they are working on, the challenges they may be facing, what they like and dislike about their roles and the skills (even soft skills apply) they’re interested in developing.
Some employees may be hesitant to speak freely at first, so we suggest starting the conversation with a series of non-work-related questions to get the conversation going and encourage them to open up.
Here are some of the questions you can ask:
How are things with you outside of work?
What did you get up to this weekend?
What do you enjoy doing during your time off?
What are some of your personal goals?
During this exchange, also remember to share some information about yourself to level the playing field and give your employees a chance to see you beyond your role as their manager and build a connection.
You can slowly ask them more about their roles within the company, their responsibilities and the areas they’d like to grow in.
Questions like the ones below can help you better understand their levels of engagement as well as career aspirations.
What is something you feel you have accomplished recently?
What motivates you to come in to work each day?
What do you like most about your job?
What are some of the challenges you are facing?
What are the resources you need to succeed in your role?
Do you feel like you’re advancing and learning new things in your current role?
Are there any projects, roles, or responsibilities in the company that interest you?
Are there any new things you’re interested in working on that you haven’t had a chance to explore?
Out of the skills you already possess, what would you like to develop?
Are there any new skills you’re interested in cultivating?
Is there anything you’d like to discuss with me that I haven’t addressed yet?
During these sessions, listen attentively and aim to understand and reflect on what your employees say rather than wait for your chance to speak.
Asking questions such as the ones above can help you take actionable measures to give your employees the tools they need to succeed in their roles towards professional development. It can also help them feel more engaged and establish deeper connections within your team and the organisation.
Use on-the-job training to help your employees develop the skills they’re interested in
According to Margaret Rogers, VP of Pariveda Solutions, classroom-style training builds a solid foundation but can quickly lose effectiveness if not applied regularly.
Instead, she recommends that managers create “learning moments” from daily work responsibilities and encounters. Says Rogers:
These moments can be significant or small, but engaging employees in this way is key to helping them step outside their comfort zones, practice, and build confidence.
For example, imagine you have an employee who is great at research and data analysis but struggles with nerves when presenting their findings to large groups and key stakeholders. This can be used to create a “learning moment”.
You could take the time to revise and go over their slides with them or create mock presentation sessions for them to work on their delivery. This not only allows them to practice and improve their confidence in a safe environment, but the next time they have to present to a bigger group, they will be more prepared and at ease.
On-the-job learning experiences allow employees to discover and utilise the tools they need to grow in their jobs on their own terms while having access to guidance from more experienced colleagues.
For managers, it can help them implement customised training and development for employees and effectively address areas of concern instead of taking a general approach that may not be relevant to all team members.
Improve employee learning objectives with Bloom's Taxonomy
Originally developed in 1956, Bloom's Taxonomy is a learning model developed by Benjamin Bloom and a group of collaborators used to categorise educational goals. Today, it has also become an indispensable tool in e-learning and workplace training.
Bloom's Taxonomy is valuable in employee development as it allows trainers and mentors to identify the stages employees must go through to learn new things. Making it easier for course developers to design more effective training programs.
The most efficient way to apply Bloom's Taxonomy in a workplace with various departments and unique learning requirements would be to:
Identify four employee skill levels
Define the objectives based on employee skill levels and knowledge gaps
During this process, the best method for content delivery will be unearthed.
Figure 1: Bloom's Taxonomy
Match learning experiences to your employees’ needs
One of the most common mistakes companies make in their training programs is assuming that all their employees have the same learning needs. However, many variables shape their preferences and reception to training. These might include experience level, length of tenure, work ethic, and career motivations.
Managers must also remember that the workforce now comprises five generations - all of which have different values, goals and learning styles. Companies should ensure that these differences are recognised at every stage of the learning process.
It’s also important to consider the role of technology and the level of expertise your employees have when interacting with it. For example, your Gen Z and Millennial team members might have no trouble navigating a sophisticated e-learning platform whereas your older employees may need more guidance.
This is why Annice Joseph, Senior HR Director of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Office at SAP believes that an agile approach to training is key to unlocking successful development programs.
In addition to learning being a continuous process, it is also important to be agile when accommodating all learning styles.
To be successful, organisations need to create environments where people can un-learn, learn and re-learn. SAP takes into careful consideration all generations represented in its workforce and caters to their unique needs.
Clear and constructive feedback is essential during employee training and development. All managers should have a strategy to ensure that feedback is communicated effectively.
During this time, be constructive with your criticism. Aim to provide suggestions and solutions instead of simply highlighting areas of weakness. Wherever it’s applicable, incorporate data and concrete numbers into your feedback strategy. This helps employees to accurately measure their performance, highlight specific strengths, and identify areas that need improvement.
While providing one-to-one feedback as a superior is a tried-and-true method, many organisations have begun to explore more comprehensive approaches. This often involves collecting feedback from a mixed panel of colleagues and managers to deliver more well-rounded feedback.
For example, the 360-degree feedback model is a method that gathers feedback from a subject’s managers, peers, subordinates and customers. A self-assessment by the subject completes this process.
Primarily used as a development tool, the 360-feedback model provides information about a subject’s work competencies, behaviour and working relationships. Its strengths lie in its ability to provide more thorough feedback due to the wide variety of sources used, its reduced likelihood for discrimination and bias, and its ability to unearth procedural issues that impede employee development.
Figure 1: The 360 Feedback Model
At this stage of your training and development, the goal should be to provide your team with the ability to reflect on their actions and encourage individual employee growth. Be patient and take the time to address both their successes and shortcomings without judgment.
You can also ensure that your employees develop their newly learned skills by working with them to devise an action plan to track their performance and chart their growth at a comfortable pace. Having a clear training objective is always welcome.
Evaluate your capacity for employee training and development programs
Thinking about how to improve training sessions for employees can be complex and time-consuming, especially in large teams. Be careful to approach it in gradual steps to avoid overloading yourself as well as your employees.
Before the implementation, think about your capacity to provide the training programs. How involved do you want to be and how much support are you able to give based on your own set of responsibilities? Do you want to handle training internally and have it distributed amongst senior leaders and management, or would you rather outsource your training in the workplace programs?
Setting realistic expectations is just as important to the success of your training program so make sure to evaluate your capacity for delivery before coming to a decision.
Using a prioritisation framework like the Eisenhower Matrix below can be effective in helping you distinguish and prioritise your tasks according to importance and urgency.
Figure 2: The Eisenhower Matrix
In the same way employee growth comes with time and continuous learning, the implementation process must be refined over time to shine. For leaders who take the time to develop their training and development as well as create a culture of learning and open communication, not only will they see their employees evolve, but they will also find greater success in engaging and retaining them.
Download the Airswift Whitepaper on Talent Retention
Training and development give people a chance to expand and chart their professional growth. The companies that upskill are the ones that will retain their employees and win the talent war – Nic Taylor, Regional Director, ASPAC, Airswift
Employee training and development are cited as core components in various reports on talent retention. The Airswift white paper discusses it in detail and a series of other practices companies can implement to improve their talent retention strategy.
Featuring recommendations from various experts within Airswift, our white paper addresses some of the issues that have been on the minds of business leaders such as:
What are the circumstances behind employee resignations in 2021?
What are the main criteria and expectations for employee retention?
What are the challenges faced when retaining talent?
What is the new set of employee expectations?
What are the best practices to retain talent for 2021 and beyond?
Get your free copy by clicking the button below to access these insights today!
This post was written by: Leanna Seah, Content Manager
Want to elevate your hiring and retention strategy?