Far too many companies decide on training on a whim without checking out if A) it’s needed and B) without linking it to an objective; what you want someone to be able to do as a result of the training.
So why not? Too often a customer complains about the way they feel they have been treated. The result? The company goes into overdrive and puts everyone through a sheep dip customer service programme. Another situation I see far too much is when a staff member asks for training or signs up to an internal workshop programme without being expected to use the learning or even share it. Any old training is not the panacea people hope for it simply becomes a complete waste of money.
You may, of course, need to arrange training for a number of reasons. You probably do when you have got new staff or taking somebody on to do a new job. You may also decide to promote one of your staff to the role of manager. Interestingly it seems we are more likely to choose a manager who has been brilliant at his/her job but does not have the management skills required. The skill they need will be inherently different from their previous role of just doing the job but it doesn’t mean they need to go on a full management programme. A Training Needs Analysis can identify that their resourcing skills and personal organisation skills are above standard for the job but that they need to learn more about managing a team or coaching individuals. They may also need enhanced negotiation or delegating skills. Easy then to find the right training at the right time and the right price.
Training is not always the answer and again a training needs analysis may demonstrate that too. Recently I was invited into a large manufacturing company who convinced me they needed training for their staff in handling difficult conversations with their customers. It seems most of their callers were aggressive and demanding and the staff were finding it difficult to cope to with the barrage of irritable calls.
I started with one of my favourite exercises – mapping out the customer’s journey and almost immediately we were able to identify the source of these difficult conversations. It appears that at busy times (not enough call handlers?) customers were waiting for up to 15 minutes for their call to be answered. What’s more, there was no friendly voice telling them where they were in the queue or even that ubiquitous “your call is important to us” message! No, it seems what they were forced to listen to was advertising for all the company products many of which were now no longer made or distributed (the tape was four years old) And they wondered why their customers were so disagreeable. The worst thing was the staff knew this. However, they had been told it was too expensive to change the tape. So I was paid generously for training that wasn’t needed.
It is a highly competitive world now. Customers nearly always have a choice of supplier and you can’t afford not to know whether your staff are incompetent or your systems are leading to disaster. You can’t afford now to continue with “sheep dip” training that gets everybody along and train them in one competence that your organisation neither needs nor uses.