Not Everything Is On The Job Training

I met with a Managing Director this week about how training is conducted for their 100+ employees, and he said at the moment they do on the job training.  I countered, “for everything?”  To which I got a very long “Yeahhhh?”

My point in the question was that when we only have a few people at a time to train, that on the job training is a very viable alternative to a traditional learning program.  If you don’t have enough people to put through a topic, then using well crafted checklists with learning objectives can make on the job training successful.

However,  where I was trying to lead this discussion was to determine how this service organization trained skills like Customer Service, Sales, Management Development, Productivity, Systems etc. since they are commonly used by a majority of the employee population.  The answer was typical of small and medium organizations, they were not even training the skills mentioned.

I think what is lost on most small to mid-sized organizations is that they cannot afford and even fathom how to train common skills for small groups, so they take it off the “to-do” list.  Reality is that it doesn’t matter how many employees you have, they still must be able to demonstrate the skills.  If you don’t train them, then they all land up doing things anyway they determine is appropriate.

Many companies will create individual career training plans that focus on a position and the skills needed to perform that function.  This is good, but I want to stress that employee development plans should also be overlapping.  All managers need the following skills, and everyone that interacts with clients need the following skills etc.

While this is fresh in your mind, write down the skills that are needed to function in your company, in other words the common skills.  Now go back over your list and circle the ones you train currently. 

  • Ask yourself if the remaining skills need to be consistent? 
  • Do you care if these skills are randomly used well? 
  • What would happen to our future if we continued to allow on the job training as the key developer of these skills?

The resulting answers should push you into the need to enhance your training plan.  And if you need help finding solutions that fit your budget, just let me know!


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