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Invest in Employee Training Development

How to Build an Employee Training Plan?

Employee training development programs can improve employee effectiveness.

Link your employee training plan to performance evaluations; and include cross training employees as part of the plan for effective resource management.

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How much do you spend annually on your employee training development program?

Many small business owners answer, "nothing"; they feel they cannot afford the cost of training.

Yet an employee training plan is required in all businesses; in the past 20 years this is even more true with technology and computers being strong drivers of the need to adjust to rapid change.

To use your resources (both human and equipment) to the fullest potential, you must train and develop your employees to perform at optimal levels.

Employees need to understand your business process, your business operations, need to know how to run equipment efficiently, how to purchase and manage inventories, how to sell in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer sales environment, how to manage customer service effectively, and so on.

Additionally, you need to prepare for succession (as people retire, you want trained employees ready to take on new and/or additional responsibilities); and you want to prepare your own business exit strategy for the future.

As a small business owner, you need to realize the maximum benefit of your technology and/or your processes; and you do this by investing in training your people and by building an effective and comprehensive employee training plan (for small businesses, this is of key importance - you do not have a large group of people to support the business therefore you need to ensure that you have well trained people to sustain the business).

Your Employee Training Development Investment might be:

  • your time, or the appropriate individual's time, in providing on-the-job development for new employees;
  • developing in-house education programs to teach new skills and new technology;
  • working with suppliers to bring in-house education for new equipment and/or new processes;
  • developing programs for cross training employees to provide better depth and coverage within the organization;
  • sending employees to workshops and/or industry- or skills-specific external training courses.

Employee Training Plan

I recommend developing an employee training plan and budget that is directly related to your needs.

For example, have you hired straight-from-school employees with little industry knowledge? Or do you have veteran employees for the most part, who need some new technology education or some supported and directed development or coaching from your suppliers.

Do you have employees trained only in one functional area (but under-utilized there); can cross training employees help build resources for other functional areas of your business that need support?

Accessing this education is typically relatively easy: for core skills, such as supervising, communicating, team work, customer service, leading, analyzing, and more, you can go to local colleges or business training organizations.

For more complex or in-depth employee training development (for example, sales development training), or to improve an employee's work performance, you can work with professional education providers to develop a specific plan.

Note: Training needs to be a formal part of an employee's performance evaluation and goal setting. This is even more important if an employee warning form has been issued as part of a corrective action process. Tie the employee training plan to the employee warning form and to performance evaluations with measurable actions and outcomes.

Job Analysis or Review

Assess your on-the-job training needs by doing a thorough review or analysis of the job, the job workflow, the job description and an appraisal or performance evaluation of the employee(s) in the job. What are the employee's strengths and weaknesses related to the position? Will coaching the employee answer the development need or do you need to employ more comprehensive employee development techniques?

Build your training plan and budget from this assessment and include it in your annual business financial plan, human resources workforce plan, and your small business plan: well trained employees will help you achieve your business growth goals and objectives.

Note: Make sure to count internal on-the-job training hours too and include them in your training budget.

Invest in developing your employees, the return on your investment is significant: exceptional employees who support your business!

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Increasing New Employee Success

New employees have a better opportunity for success when you provide a strong orientation for them on day one.

But follow up on that orientation, make sure that they understand what's expected of them and that they have the training and the support to do well.

During the first week, set aside some time each day to check in with them and debrief; listen closely to what they have to say and see if they highlight areas of business or process improvement: sometimes new employees see things that existing staff just don't see anymore.

Be sure to communicate progress and expected results regularly. Provide a written summary performance review after the first month - not at the end of the probationary period - by then it may be too late. Make sure the summary provides both the good results and the areas for improvement - with feedback on how that improvement can be achieved.

Communicate the organization's plan for the future and how the employees contribute to those plans and mission.

Make sure that the culture of your organization is one that attracts the type of people you want working for you. Assess your environment objectively - or hire someone to come in and do an employee survey or assessment for you.

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Performance Evaluation Best Practices

Provide feedback regularly and consistently (and frequently for new employees or those that appear to be struggling).

Recognize good work openly and in front of other.

Consider poor performance as an area for improvement: focus on only one or two improvement areas at a time.

Provide employees with the opportunity for input into their evaluations - this should not be a one-way communication effort, rather it needs to be a two-way effort.

If there are action items that come out of the performance evaluation, and typically there need to be some goals or actions in each evaluation, then follow up - do not wait for a year to go by to check in.