Optimize Employee Training and Development

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/24/2007 | Business and Finance

With cost cutting being a common occurrence in business, it is important to optimize employee training and development to ensure that both the organization and the employee can get the best returns.

Employee development is too crucial to the success of the organization to be sacrificed. However, there also are not unlimited funds for employees to attend every training that may be deemed useful.

A proper program needs to be in place to identify important training stints required to ensure money is well spent. It will also be necessary to fit in the training programs within the work schedule of the employees so that work is not disrupted.

The best way to do this is by having an employee development program on an annual basis. The key steps in this program should be as follows:

1. Employee Self Assessment
The first step is for the employees to do a self-assessment of the kind of development required. The assessment will be based on the person's job scope and performance plan for the year.

Based on this, the employee can review both internal and external training programs and identify those best suited. In addition to this, opportunities to work in specific projects should also be included.

The employee should also consider the future role and function that he or she aspires for. The intent is to share this future plan with the manager so that they can also plan for the employee's future aspirations.

All these should be documented in a self-assessment form.

2. Document The Employee Development Plan
The manager will meet each of the people reporting to him individually, to go through the completed assessment form by the employee. This provides the manager with an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the employee's plan.

The manager also has the opportunity to suggest other training programs that the employee may not be aware of. This includes opportunities to work with another team as part of skill development, as the manager probably has a broader view of the organizational activities.

In cases where the number of training days exceeds the guidance provided by the organization, it will be necessary to prioritize the training programs.

This whole exercise provides the manager with an overview of the training cost. The employees will be able to identify the training programs that are already scheduled and block it off in their calendars, so that they can plan their work activities around this. While this helps, there might be times when the employee may have to forego some of the training due to work pressures.

Feedback should also be provided on the employee's future plans. Knowing this helps the manager in two ways. In the immediate future, he could arrange for the employee to be assigned to some other project or team to gain experience and exposure on his or her desired future role. The significance of this is also in the fact that this request can be noted down, so that when such a role becomes available, the employee can be recommended for it.

An employee development planning form should be used to document the training and development plan details. An action plan should be included with planned dates for the training and subsequent reviews of the plan.

3. Periodic Reviews
An employee development plan can be effective only if it is regularly reviewed to ensure that the planned actions are being done or changed as required.

Even if the plan is done with the best of intentions, the daily activities take over and unless these reviews are done, the development activities will not get the priority that they should get. The employee development plan should be reviewed quarterly or at least every four months.

It may sound like a laborious task, but doing these steps streamlines the employee development exercise. The employees also feel that the organization cares for them.

The best way to do this is to block off these activities in your calendar right at the beginning of the year. Your other activities should be worked around these. However, if you need to miss one of these due to some good reasons, then make sure you reschedule.

The book title "The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch 'em Kick Butt" by Hal Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin Peters describes very well the need to invest time in the employees.

Well-planned and executed employee training and development brings benefits to both the organization and the employee. This, in turn, will benefit your customers who ultimately decide the continued success of the organization.