Is training fit for purpose within your organisation?

Is training fit for purpose within your organisation?

I suppose the answer is: It depends who you are training how valuable the knowledge being imparted is to the role and organisation, the level of understanding to be undertaken; the task they carryout , any health and safety implications and whether the training addresses all of these areas.

For instance you would not want to train an airline pilot to fly a plane via a book (reading) you would want him to have a variety of intensive training including practical supervision, perhaps using simulators as well.   But if you want to introduce a new uniform code for a pilot you might do this via a hand-out with images perhaps even a verbal reference in a staff meeting.

So it would seem to start with the person, organisational objectives and regulatory environment, then how each element of the persons job description, competences and responsibilities are made up.  So it might be about the skills, risks and emotional intelligence needed within their role and then understanding how this is best delivered and refreshed through training.

Some essential experience, qualification and knowledge you may wish to have in place ahead of someone joining the company i.e. you may be looking for a Social Worker to join the team – qualified at the outset but you would still want them to be trained in your organisations policies, procedures and for their skills to be kept up to-date.  In other organisations you might take someone on initially as a care assistant and then provide opportunity through training to further develop the person within the organisation – both routes would need some element of on-going training.

So it is important that you stop and focus on each role and the level of understanding needed at the outset and then consider on-going measures.  You should also examine the best method suited to the transfer of knowledge to the individual and the best learning method needed to do this.  For instance if you had an employee in customer service, meeting many different people on a daily basis then Equality and Diversity (E&D) training would be an essential to their role and simply completing a multi choice standard E&D quiz focused on the law would not address the way you might speak, interact and provide support to an individual.   Face to face would allow the right environment to explore own personal prejudices, challenges and barriers within the role and how best to overcome them and how to manage things that might go wrong on the day.   However E&D training for a Finance Manager might be addressed through a briefing paper dealing with the specific areas of focus and some case studies.

Similarly if someone’s job means heavy lifting watching a video or reading a book on how best to lift safely does not test the person’s ability to do the task safely and could risk the health and safety of the member of staff and those around them.  The test of Health and Safety is ‘do you understand’? Just watching a video might not be the best evidence of this.

You may also look at the way the training is delivered and by whom so if its face to face, internal or external? Bringing into the company a third party trainer specialised in the field to teach a group of people, sending one member of staff out of the company to learn about the subject and then cascade it back into the company or if financial resources are tight working with another organisation to share the cost of training and knowledge sharing.

A training plan would therefore seem essential and be best drawn up for each role and key responsibility within your organisation and its possible that a variety of methods might be provided to delivery it i.e. in the Health and Safety example above you might have a practical training session in manual handling when the person joins the company as it needs to be understood and managed properly from the start, followed by other methods of training in the future as a way of a refresher.  The same could be said for Equality and Diversity using face to face engagement methods as initial training and then varying methods say every three years after again as a way of a refresher.

The risks of not focusing on each role and method of training might not seem clear at first, you might say surely it makes good financial sense to purchase a £100 training video to show someone how to lift a heavy item but if this is their job day in day out we need to know they understand and can demonstrate how to lift as a physical injury is likely to cost much more than a £100 in compensation.   Many people might watch an Equality film or complete a quiz which informs the learner not to discriminate but the film or the quiz does not seek to help the learner understand their own personal barriers and prejudices that might impinge on the service and create a discrimination risk to the company.

Many time in a training session on Equality and Diversity I have been challenged by the comment – ‘I think this need for political correctness is going over the top, let people say what they want’ by speaking out in a classroom the subject can be drawn out sensitively, further discussed and need understood, such a situation cannot be inquisitively managed by a film or computer.

With so much flexibility in training options you can design the right and relevant approach this might range from face to face practical training, presentation, facilitation, quiz, theatre group, film, workshops, role play, mentoring, on the job, IT based learning, handbook, case studies in a staff briefing update –  the list and variety goes on.  Wave-length would be happy to provide examples of Training frameworks.

At Wave-length we have sought the expertise of Wolverhampton University to help us design a  hybrid E&D training method that combines of face to face training with new IT solutions as we know people are reducing spend but still wanting something timely, practical and valuable sessions that are relevant to the sector, develops understanding and avoids litigation.    The traditional IT tool often appears to be a multi choice quiz selection which for many organisations is too generic in approach and not always relevant to the sector or demographic of the organisation.  For example a member of staff in a caring environment said to me that they had previously in place a multi choice question quiz on E&D which asked her what was the percentage of black people living in Birmingham? Requiring her to guess the % from answers given after her second go she got it right – it was now coming down to guess work.  She said afterwards there was no text following on to say why this might be relevant to a community care assistant working in Shropshire, if in fact it was relevant at all.  So in hindsight this company might have reduced cost but had they really improved knowledge? Safety? Understanding of their team? And what of the cost of the person sitting guessing at answers for up to 4 hours?

So the hybrid will be to design and deliver sector specific engaging sessions on-line that would seek to build on knowledge and to ask the learner to set some specific tasks they would go on to do as a result of the session.  Such tasks would be sent onto their line manager who would then follow up on the actions and impact of them at a future appraisal, making such learning valuable to the individual and the company.  Wave-length would also be available on-line to provide further back up support to the session if needed.

So this demonstrates the flexibility approach needed in a prudent environment it is not about simply slashing a training budget, always doing what you have always done because you ‘think’ it is making a difference or looking for a cheaper alternative you should be designing a training framework for each role listing what you expect the person to know and when by along with the learning and continual development within.  It is about making training work for your organisation, for the individual and the future delivery of organisational objectives? Allowing you to continually measure risk, impact whether positive or negative, ensure you meet regulatory requirements and ensuring value for the organisation and learner as a natural output and not letting training budget restraints rule you. 

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