After doing training and development for ten plus years, my experience tells me that most companies are not doing enough training in the areas where people need the training. In many cases, they are spending more time on training people in the areas that don’t necessarily give that person or the organization its best return on investment.
I have created a list of the different kinds of training and development a company must provide and who should be providing it, in my opinion. And at the end of this article I suggest the amount of time that a company should be training in each of the training areas I have described.
In this article, I use the terms inside trainers and outside or external trainers. Whenever I use the terms outside or external trainers, I mean the same thing. It means either bring a training company in from the outside of your organization or send your employees to a conference, or some kind of training being provided by an outside or external company.
Soft Skills (foundational skills): These are commonly called the soft skills. Communication, interpersonal relationships, managing stress, small talk, listening skills, etc.
These skills are the most important skills of all in my opinion. I don’t care who you are and what you do. The chances are, sometime between five years old and who you are today, you have lost knowledge of how to be nice to others. It isn’t totally your fault, in the hyper crazy world you are just busy. You have been conditioned to respond to someone before they are finished talking. You have learned to cut people off in mid sentence. You have lost the ability to disagree agreeably, if you actually ever learned it in the first place.
The foundational/soft skills are the basics of human interaction. And for whatever reason, today, because of technology, we just don’t communicate face to face enough that when we are asked to do so, we just aren’t very good at it.
Who should provide this training? In my opinion most training departments within a company aren’t equipped to handle this kind of training. Hiring an outside company is the best way to deliver this training. The reason I say this, is because the outside company is working with lots of other companies, their material is very specific to this area, but it is very applicable to all organizations. Because the challenges that come up, in the area of soft skills, are universal to all people. Someone within company can get certified in a specific training program that delivers these kinds of skills. But even then, unless they have many years of delivering this kind of training, I would suggest a company still hire an outside company to deliver the training to get the most out of the dollars spent on it.
Skills Training: Includes proficiencies needed to actually perform the job. This kind of training is very specific to an individual job description or category. It could be sales, customer service, engineer, project management, leadership, etc. Skills training is the kind of training that helps someone get better at their job.
Skills training is ongoing and never ends. Unfortunately, we as humans can learn anything we want, but what we learn and what we actually retain are terribly opposite at times. To ensure a person gets and keeps the information that they need to be successful on the job. Repetition is critical. How often do they need it? Everyday is what I say. To really learn, retain, and actually apply the skills. A person must constantly be practicing and learning. Period.
Who should be delivering this kind of training? Obviously some of this training is going to be very specific for certain jobs in the company. I would suggest maybe a person who is doing the job, but also has the ability and the time to train others. Not everyone can train someone else to do what they do. The chances are the manager isn’t proficient enough or fresh enough to teach these specific skills either. By the way, that is okay.
Sometimes this training may land within a human resources department as well. Again, I caution this because unless the person has actually done the job, they may not have the credibility or the depth of knowledge necessary to train the skills required effectively.
Again, depending on the job, hiring an outside company might be best. Especially once everyone on the team has gone through initial skills training that is provided. Having an outside person come in that has a different voice, a different perspective, and delivery methods that reinforces what the company has already trained the employee on. This only enhances the employees skills and helps them buy-in to the philosophies even more.
Leadership Training: I had to create a separate category for leadership training. You could easily put it under skills training or soft skills/foundational skills training. However, because I believe, and it has been validated over and over. Leaders drive the effectiveness, the engagement of employees, and the overall success of an organization. This kind of training should not be taken lightly and should be a significant investment made by all companies and organizations. Equipping leaders with the skills to problem solve, lead people, have empathy, coaching, delegation, project management, celebration, etc. should be one of the primary focuses of all companies and organizations. All companies rise or fall on the ability of the leaders within that organization.
Who should provide this training? From my experience working inside a company, I have always found that a good external training company is always best when it comes to delivering leadership training. The reason I say this, is because the chances are you have already heard and learned the leadership practices within your organization. To get new ideas and ways to approach things, the best way is to bring an outside company in who will have a different perspective and different insights. This will allow your leadership team to grow and add more tools and skills in the area of leadership to their toolkit. Or you can send leaders to a training program.
Professional training and legal training: This is the kind of training that is very specific to a job classification or specific job task. For example, it could be accounting. They must keep up with all of the current tax laws. Lawyers need specific training as laws change. Human Resources must be kept up to speed on the current employment laws. Leadership must be kept up on the current hiring and firing laws if they are the ones interviewing candidates.
Who should provide this training? Well, some of this training can be purchased from outside companies that focus on this. Training such as sexual harassment, discrimination laws, certain health and safety mandatory practices, safe driving, etc. Since most of this kind of training is driven by laws, codes, mandates, requirements, etc. It is pretty straight forward. The key is delivering it in a way that isn’t mind numbing to the people who have to attend.
A company may have someone in human resources deliver it. Or there are many companies out there such as skillsoft and other learning management systems that provide online courses to deliver this training. Again, this is more of a check the box kind of training, however, it is important. So delivering it in a way that makes it memorable is very important.
Team Training: Everybody is part of a team. If you have more than one employee in your company, than you are working as a team. The challenges with the teams is that it is comprised of people who have different agendas and sometimes even different priorities. The goal with team training is to get the team working together as a team. It could be breaking down barriers, improving productivity within the team, or just getting the team to know each other better.
Team training is very important. The more a team knows each individual and who they are, they are more willing to give people respect and encouragement when things aren’t going well.
Who should provide this training? It depends on how bad the team dynamics are. If it is very bad, then my suggestion would be to have an outside firm come in and do the training. The reason for this, is when someone internally does it, the team looks at it as being pushed on them, and unfortunately, no matter how objective the trainer is, the people involved will think that the trainer has a bias in how they interact with the group and the individuals.
If it is just normal team building stuff and the team just needs a boost or the manager just wants to continue to build upon the team engagement. Then a manager could do it, or someone from human resources. Again, it must be someone who is skilled in facilitating and getting a group involved. My suggestion is to always go outside of the four walls of the company as well. There is something about getting outside the four walls that creates a better training environment for the team, especially in these kinds of trainings.
Safety training: Is a type of training that occurs to ensure employees are protected from injuries caused by work-related accidents. Safety training is especially important for organizations that use chemicals or other types of hazardous materials in their production. Safety training can also include evacuation plans, fire drills, and workplace violence procedures. Safety training can also include the following:
- Eye safety
- First aid
- Food service safety
- Hearing protection
- Construction safety
- Hazmat safety
Who should provide this training: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is the main federal agency charged with enforcement of safety and health regulation in the United States. OSHA provides external training to companies on OSHA standards. Also, someone in-house could deliver this training as well. A safety director or someone from human resources. Again the key is to make it fun, and this requires a skilled facilitator to do so.
Technical or Technology training: All jobs have some kind of technical training involved. It could be something like teaching a server how to input food into the system, to showing a sales person how to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) to prospect for clients. Most companies (I hesitate to say all) have some kind of computer system that helps them manage they work and their business. It could be something very universal such as Microsoft products, to something very specific and tailored to their industry. Whatever the technical training is, a company must invest in it to make sure people know how to manage the business.
Who should provide this training? Most companies are using something very specific that is being provided by another company. For example: Salesforce which is a CRM for sales people, or WordPress which is a website developer. Whatever the software is, the chances are the company providing it will have a team that delivers training. I always suggest using that team as much as possible to deliver the training for your employees.
Now some companies may have little nuances that the company that they are buying from may not be familiar with. In that case, you may have someone within the department deliver the training or human resources. But for the most part, the company that is providing the software or the system should have some training that you either get when you buy the product as well as ongoing training.
Quality Training: Refers to equipping the employees with the means and expertise of preventing, detecting, and eliminating non-quality items, usually in an organization that produces a product. Many companies use the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to help develop what the quality standards are. But equipping the employees within the company to administer these standards is what is most important.
Who should provide this training: Just like technical or technology training this kind of training can be administered from an outside company like ISO. But most companies usually have someone within their company that oversees quality. In this case, this person must become skilled at training and delivering quality training to the people who need to know it. Again, the people who are receiving this training must understand the quality standards and be able to actually point it out when the standards are not being met. So teaching the people who are managing quality is a job that requires someone who is very technical, but also very creative in their training and delivery methods.
In addition, I want to point out that some companies hire someone from within to oversee the quality. If that person has never been exposed to any outside training or outside quality metrics, then a goal of their development should be to expose them to outside best practices. I have seen too many times where a person has been promoted up to oversee quality, and unfortunately with their very limited experience, fail to develop a world-class quality system.
My hope after reading this is that you have a better understanding of the different kinds of training that is important to deliver within your company. As I stated before, many companies are simply not doing enough training in the areas where the employees need to be trained. Or they are not getting the right kind of training that really helps an employee develop new skills or enhance their current skills to provide a better return to the company.
A company should be spending no less than 50% of an employees training time in enhancing that employees skills in the job they are required to do. Another 20% of the allotted training time should be in soft skills development. And the remaining 30% should include technical training as needed. Professional training as needed. Safety and Quality as needed.
All of these percentages are based upon what a person job is. It will vary significantly, depending on your role within the organization. The key point though is ensuring that the employee is getting the training that will allow them to deliver better results in their position. When a person has the skills to deliver better results in their position, because of the training they are getting, this is how companies grow and so does the employee.
Again, I have learned through my experiences that everyone thinks they can train. Just because you know something, it doesn’t mean you can train someone on it. Highly skilled trainers and facilitators know how to engage an audience. They know the right practices and methods to get participation and make the learning and training experience enjoyable.
When is the last time you had an external company come in and provide training for your organization? If it has been a while, I would suggest trying it out and seeing what kind of result you get.
I hope you found this information to be useful. If you did please share it with others.
To your success and your future.