A definition for off-season is a time of suspended or reduced activity; especially : the time during which an athlete is not training or competing. Do you consider your training staff as athletes or your training audiences as competitors? I believe this all depends on your business needs and your learning/development programs. For example, football teams will dismiss their staff ( which includes players, coaches, and tertiary support) for the winter once their last game has been played. Some of these staff will train, volunteer, vacation, and pass the time away until spring training begins. But, they don’t have any plans to develop until the time has arrived to get back to work.
Now baseball players on the other hand are a little different. These athletes especially the players that need development will travel to the tropical regions and play during the winter until spring training. They could be considered self-directed learners because of their drive to improve on their skills for the upcoming season. Others whose contract might be up for negotiation will play during the winter to get noticed by a team scout for future employment. So what does this have to do with training you ask?
What I have professed on several occasions is that developing a workforce during the off-season is an ideal time to improve on some of the skills that are essential for achieving your business needs. Do you have individuals that need training on new software? How about sales people that need to brush up on the latest policy that will impact the technology development of your product? These are a couple of examples that could be considered for off-season development. How can I accomplish this?
As a manager identifying the business needs first is key since this will drive the development schedule that you might want to create for your staff. Along with performance evaluations or individual development plans a manager can get a good idea as to who on the team needs training. Once a hierarchical strategy of importance is established and aligned with your business goals then creating and supporting those development plans becomes essential. Low hanging fruit is always a good start. What I consider is the cost to success ratio and determine if the time committed to the training will be fruitful in the end. But don’t forget the evaluation to this new training and capture key metrics to build upon for the next cycle of training.
Managers need to look at their teams and assess the successes along with the failures to get a good picture of how well his/her teams perform. Once you have created a repetitive model that gives consistent data and measures your plans successfully then apply the model across the spectrum of positions that your depend on. If you would like to learn more about developing your workforce visit this page: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_91.htm
Objectives and Indicators
Strategic Objectives Definition: Macro-level metrics are the overall organization or cross-functional metrics used to drive strategy; and micro-level metrics are those measures that support the improvement and management of a particular project, program or initiative.
Strategic Objectives-The term “strategic objectives” refers to an organization’s articulated aims or responses to address major change or improvement, competitiveness or social issues, and business advantages. Strategic objectives generally are focused both externally and internally and relate to significant customer, market, product, or technological opportunities and challenges (strategic challenges). Broadly stated, they are what an organization must achieve to remain or become competitive and ensure long-term sustainability. Strategic objectives set an organization’s longer-term directions and guide resource allocations and redistributions.
Key Performance Indicators- At an organizational level, a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a quantifiable metric that reflects how well an organization is achieving its stated goals and objectives. In the illustration we can identify the objectives as stakeholders, investments, and employee productivity. Likewise, we can identify performance indicators as key components relevant to those objectives we have spelled out.
How does this type of matrix drive our performance management process? Good question and a good question that all managers should be aware of when budgeting for training programs, projects or employee development. The process should be transparent to all the programs regardless of the contributors and the performance indicators identified. Strategically managing this process through your business projects will help monitor actual costs, return on investment, resource allocation, and all the components required to successfully complete any project. The upside to managing your training projects like small business acquisitions is that the result in the delivery will result in measureable data to support your strategy or reflect on the weakness of your programs.
I believe that all employees at all levels of the organization should plan some type of training, extended education, or attend conferences to enhance their professional careers. While some managers will attend almost anything to get out of the office most will consider the development of their teams before using up all the training dollars. Either situation should look at rewarding their employees for contributing to the success of the organization. Just because someone has an advanced degree does not mean that they are through learning. No, in most cases it’s the opposite. These individuals seek alternative learning methods so that they themselves can get motivated to create alternative learning methods in their workplace.
Personal development plan example
My previous post I discussed how training departments can get ahead of the year if they do a review on knowledge or skills their teams might need. I for one believe that creating a development plan at this point in the year will allow for more time to meet the goals, phase the development in quarters, prioritize the need, and allow for planning. Because, if you are like any other organization your project calendar will start to get filled up. Plus, allow for the employees to seek different methods of learning. For example, lets say distance education.
In the book, Distance Education: A Systems View by Michael Moore and Greg Kearsley, the authors present the factors or impact that distance education has on a student. The premise of the book is identifying what “distance education” is and how someone migrates towards this learning environment. Distance education is a mode of delivering education and instruction, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting such as a classroom. For me this type of learning environment was ideal while I was completing my graduate degree. Because my emphasis was learning the uses of instructional technology in the classroom I felt being a student in this environment I would have a better view of how to develop for adult learners. I feel like anymore organizations are rethinking their budget strategies and are starting to identify with the effectiveness that distance learning can have on their training budgets.
So, don’t procrastinate those development plans and commit to having your employees seek that professional development training. Make your team stronger by allowing that individual attend those conferences but also allow them to use those skills to help your organization move ahead of the industry. Most employees aim to do well but sometimes they don’t know that they need that extra training to help them along.
I have an extensive sports background beginning with Little League Baseball and ending with two-years of college football. I always hated the end of football season for obvious reasons and the long lull in between seasons. But, mainly our team goal wasn’t met and almost always coaches never gave feedback on what prevented us from being successful. I guess just like any training or learning program installed to achieve certain goals directed at advancing a students success the evaluation fell short of actually identifying what went wrong. Sure everyone gets individual accolades (performance reviews, awards etc…) for what they contributed during the year but are team goals addressed.
Measuring the effectiveness of training programs consumes valuable time and resources. As we know all too well, these things are in short supply in organizations today. Why should we bother?
Many training programs fail to deliver the expected organizational benefits. Having a well-structured measuring system in place can help you determine where the problem lies. On a positive note, being able to demonstrate a real and significant benefit to your organization from the training you provide can help you gain more resources from important decision-makers.
Consider also that the business environment is not standing still. Your competitors, technology, legislation and regulations are constantly changing. What was a successful training program yesterday may not be a cost-effective program tomorrow. Being able to measure results will help you adapt to such changing circumstances.
Figure 1 – Kirkpatrick Model for Evaluating Effectiveness of Training Programs
What measurable organizational benefits resulted from the training in terms such as productivity, efficiency and sales revenue?
To what extent did participants change their behavior back in the workplace as a result of the training?
To what extent did participants improve knowledge and skills and change attitudes as a result of the training?
- Level 1 – Reaction
To what extent did the participants find the training useful, challenging, well-structured, organized, and so on?
Since we are rolling over into a new year and this winter holiday lull is almost over it would be a great time to review evaluation systems in your organization. Gather your training and eLearning folks and have a great discussion on how to better deliver training for your staff. I bet that almost everything you outline and discuss will have some type of measurement included that can be very helpful for the upcoming year.
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