Training need identification should happen at different levels in the organization, but must begin with training on the company's Core Ideology, Goals and Vision; followed by training to meet the organizations objectives and business need. Identification of training needs for an individual must happen during the annual goal setting, as part of the Performance Management System. It is the responsibility of the candidate and her boss to identify the need, and review the outcome after training is completed; training department or HR normally facilitates the training program. Dr. Deming says that a Leader must be a trainer and it is a leader's job to know who needs training and who does not.
Design- Once the various topics of training are identified, it is important to design the training module and structure to make sure that the training will meet the intended needs. Especially when we roll out a company wide training program on a particular topic, we must make sure that the concerned functional people are actively involved in design of the program. The design must start with the Objective, the participant mix, the power point presentation layout, the hand out notes, case studies and the faculty competence. The design shouldn't be left solely to the consultant who bagged the contract; because no one knows the people, the processes and the objectives of the organization better than that of the organizational leaders.
Gap Identification - Let's look at few examples where there is a gap and clearly a need for training. When I went to buy shirts at a big retail outlet during a festival sale, it was very difficult to figure out which category were on sale, what exactly was the discount and which shirts had a free gift offer. Three different sales personnel's had different opinion, clearly a gap in training on the sale offer.
In another incident I got a note from the local club to pay the monthly dues, I promptly visited the club with a cheque and this put the staff into great inconvenience, none of the staff on duty that day was sure if they could accept a cheque. The computers were down and I requested that they could give a manual receipt for the cheque, they were not sure of that too. My final offer was that I will just leave the cheque with them to get the receipt later. They couldn't take that decision too, well after making several calls to whomsoever, the girl in the reception accepted my cheque and gave a manual receipt. Apparently they are not aware that a cheque is much safer to receive than hard cash.
Recently when my computer broke down, I called up the company that supplied the machine. I realized that the person who picked up the phone was not fluent conversing in English, he told me that the senior service engineer is "going to call", I would have kept the phone down thinking that he was busy and he would call me back, but on continuing the conversation I realized that the Engineer had gone out on a service call. Later that evening the same person along with another colleague turned up to repair my computer, he didn't give a call to check if I was at home nor to get directions; on questioning I realized that he spent two hours trying to figure out the address, but didn't bother to give a call. Once at home trying to get instructions from his boss I thought was another ordeal because he found it so difficult to converse fluently and quickly. Well, this is a case of clear gap in terms of communication and spoken English.
The above stated examples seem to be petty ones, but clearly this affects not just the speed, but the repercussions can be even loss of business.
Effectiveness - Measuring effectiveness and the difficulty involved seems to be always a topic for discussion in organizations, especially before an external audit on the quality system; but I think it's not a big deal if we are sure and convinced of the need for training. In general it is easy to check effectiveness of technical training by conducting a pre and post test or a final examination; the problem is generally with soft skills. The best judge of the effectiveness is the candidate and his reporting officer and both together should make a conscious effort to evaluate the same. Opportunities must also be created to practice what is learnt. If a person undergoes training on presentation skills, there must be opportunity to make presentations and to be reviewed; similarly a good way to evaluate a person who underwent training on team building is to give an opportunity to lead a cross functional team. I have seen people who have undergone training on Six Sigma Black Belt really developing their training and presentation skills and is clearly evident when they handle classes for the next level of training such as Green Belt training. So the point is to create opportunities and to be involved in making the measurement.
Investment - Most important aspect for everybody to understand is that training is not a favour done by the organization to the candidate nor a favour done by the candidate to the organization; it is an investment made by the organization on the candidate to achieve business results. It is a serious activity and the organization should make sure that the trainees are comfortable during the training, with no disturbance from pecking issues and the basic needs such as a good environment, ventilation, and refreshments are taken care of; so that the candidates focus on learning.
Pradeep Kumar E.T. A Master Black Belt in Six Sigma , is the Country Manager- Operational Excellence with Tyco Electronics Corporation India Pvt Ltd. Feedback can be e- mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org