When you stop to think about the jobs you enjoyed and that you stayed with for a long period, you may realize that these jobs were also the ones that you did well. You knew what you were doing and you stuck around because you knew what you were doing.
Organizational learning and training allows team members to feel valuable to their company and it allows everyone to be clear on what to do and how to do it.
The more people you have on your team that are well trained, the more you will stabilize your turnover rate, and build the best possible company that you can.
The Value of Training
You know logically that training is a valuable asset at any company. After all, the more people know, the more they are able to contribute to the bottom line.
However, what many people may not realize is that training offers even more benefits.
- Confidence. When a person is well trained, they are able to do more because they are confident that they know how. Even when they are faced with a problem, they can use the knowledge they already have, and apply it to the situation.
- Flexibility. The more that people are trained in the tasks they need to do, the more they can go to other roles or environments to help out, instead of having to stay in their own role.
- Teamwork. When individuals are clear about how they need to proceed with a task, it builds cohesiveness in teams. People do not have to stop and ask for direction and they do not have to worry that others on their team do not know what they are doing.
- Quicker onboarding. For the new employee, training is everything. The better the training, the more quickly they can jump into their job with confidence. While they may still need to learn certain things by actually performing the tasks, they are going to feel as though they are more a part of the team with the knowledge than they would if they were simply thrown into a position.
- More results. Those who know what they are doing will produce more, assuming that the training program is up to date. They will be able to focus on what they are doing, rather than how they are doing it.
Training provides numerous benefits to companies, as well as to individual employees. While some employees may roll their eyes at training, when they see the benefits for themselves, they will begin to realize just how powerful a few days in training can be.
Internal versus External Trainers
As a company with a lot to do and a lot to accomplish during a day, it can seem as though training is one more thing that might detract from your goals. To manage this concern, some companies find it valuable to hire external trainers, or those who may not be a part of the company, though they might be highly skilled in what they do.
At the same time, it might seem easier and less costly to use internal trainers who have been with the company for a period.
To make the best decision for you, here are some points to consider about internal trainers.
- Less costly. When you use a team member as a trainer, you do not have to pay them an additional payment necessarily, which means that you can save money on development.
- Easier to schedule. A person who is in-house is going to be easier to manage than someone who might have other commitments for training.
- Company specific. Additionally, a person who has already been doing the things that they are training others for, is going to be a valuable resource for the team.
- Familiarity. The in-house trainer is also going to have rapport with the people they are training, or they can more easily relate to those who work at the company, even if the trainees are new.
- Not trained to be trainers. The only trick to consider is that not all people who know their job well are the best trainers. You will want to choose someone who is also skilled in relaying information to others.
- May teach what they know versus procedures. Sometimes, you might have a trainer who teaches incorrect procedures because that is what they do. To combat this, it helps to provide an outline of the material to be covered in the training.
When using an external trainer, there are factors to consider while making your decision.
- Trained in training. When you hire someone who trains all the time, you get someone who knows how to help people learn and how to ensure that they are learning what they need to know.
- Will follow the outline. If you are hiring someone who works outside of your company, they can be assigned a specific outline of material to relay to their audience.
- Are an authority. Even if the person who is the trainer is not a part of the company, when an expert is called in, they are often seen as the authority on their subject.
- May not know smaller details. When the trainer is not a part of the actual company, they may not understand the nuances of some of the subjects they teach.
- May not connect with the trainees. Someone who is unfamiliar with the audience may not connect well, which can lead to strange interactions and possibly some distrust from some employees.
The things you need to consider when hiring (or not hiring) a trainer include the following.
- Knowledge base.
Even though cost might seem to be the most prohibitive part of this decision, realize that when you can train a number of people at once, then you can save money that you would have spent training every person one-on-one.
When you need to train people immediately on a topic or a product, it can be best to use in-house trainers, as this will ensure that you can get the training done on your timeline.
The knowledge the trainer has to have varies. If the topic being taught is completely new to the whole company, then an outside trainer or manager might make the most sense.
Types of Training
However, it is not just the trainer that matters when it comes to training your company staff. You need to think about the types of learners you might have in your employee group, and how you can best train them.
Some of the training types will depend on the information being transmitted, while it can also help to address all types of learning styles within the following main types of training.
- Seminars or workshops. Often, training will come in the form of a longer day or days of sitting in chairs and listening to a trainer speak. These types of trainings are often warranted when a larger training need is present, for instance, new hires. Note that these longer trainings take more time away from a worker's schedule, although they can also present larger volumes of information at once.
- Online. To make training easier, some companies have created online options. These are often done through email or through programs like Moodle to help disseminate information virtually. Training online might include videos of instruction, tests, message boards, and others. This type of instruction requires that the participant be highly motivated and energetic during the process, as a teacher often does not drive the course.
- On site. Other training might happen on the site or in the site of where the activity will take place. These more hands on trainings can be highly instructive for technical tasks. However, these trainings do require that people be willing to travel to the new location and that they are able to schedule something that works for everyone.
- Read and test. For simpler issues, a company might decide to hand out reading materials and then test the employee after they have read them. For information that is more complex this will not work as well, but it can help during policy changes.
The more you think about the material that you have to share, the more you will be able to decide how best to share this information with your team.
Other training tips include:
- Handouts and visual aids. People often like to have something tangible at the end of their training. If you can provide handouts and other worksheets after a training session, the staff member can keep those on hand to refer back to later.
- Ongoing reviews. The more people review material they have learned, the more they will recall it.
- Learn and then train. You could also encourage your employees to not only learn from a training workshop, but also learn from training someone else.
When you begin to find what works for your company, you should compile a folder of the training materials so that they can be on hand the next time you need them.
Promoting Ongoing Development
You can ensure training is something that helps promote loyalty among your team by encouraging your team to seek out training opportunities. Instead of teams only training when they are told to, you can offer them ways to get the training that they feel they need to succeed in their job, and in their next job.
You can encourage ongoing development by using these methods.
- Sharing training opportunities. Your company may want to post a list of current training opportunities that are relevant to the company's work.
- Keeping training materials available. Since not every employee may have been able to attend every training session, or may not have been required to attend every training session, keep the training materials easily accessible for all staff members.
- Paying for external training. You might offer a certain stipend for training during the course of a work year for employees. They can choose to use this stipend for training, or they can choose to leave the money in the account since it cannot be used for anything else. This stipend can offset the costs associated with professional development and encourage higher learning opportunities.
The more you can show your team that training will help them and that it will help them grow in their career, the more people may begin to seek out their own development.
It is no surprise that ongoing training helps employees in their work, but it can also help companies have better talent pools and loyal staff members. By taking some time to consider what training is necessary and who should provide the training, a company can make the most of development resources.
Managing Employment Attrition in High Performing Teams
When you are looking at your employee base, you know they are not going to stick around forever, even if you want them to. While you might be able to settle in and not worry about your team for a certain period, the more you can consider how your team might look in the future, the more you can plan for success.
Often, you are the one in control of who leaves and who stays, but this is not always the case with attrition. Instead, you might need to adjust your entire staff plan when you lose someone you did not think you were going to lose.
Attrition versus Turnover
With all of the terms floating around about staff changes, it is easy to get confused. For most people, the idea of turnover is when everyone leaves a company, but this is not the exact definition.
Instead, turnover is when someone quits, is fired, or they are hired. It is the turning over of the employee base, and it is within the control of the company or the human resources department.
When an employee leaves due to retirement or layoffs, it is known as attrition. Although this does not leave you in control of how an employee leaves, it does influence the company.
In those cases, you need to prepare ahead of time, as the impact of someone leaving when you least expect it can be challenging on any size company.
Retirement and Layoffs, The Impact
- A lack of history. When you lose someone who has been around for a long period, he or she takes the history of the company with him or her. This person is someone who remembers what happened the last time you tried ...... and this person can tell you what worked and what did not. They also may remember how the company was founded, and so forth. Without this history, there may not be context for some current decision making.
- A missing knowledge set. Often, a person who is with a company for a long time develops a knowledge set that others do not have. They know the nuances of certain tasks and activities, and they keep them in their head. While they may not mean to keep this information secret or private, when they leave, this knowledge may not be available, and it may not be something that a new person in that role could learn on their own.
- A missing 'leader.' Those who have been at companies for longer periods are people who become leaders at the company. Often, they have been the voice of reason and they have been the people who had the right answers at the right times. Without them around, it can take time for a set of employees to find someone new to take their place.
The positive news is that retirements are often scheduled and expected, so there is more time to work on the transition from having this person in place to having this person be done with the everyday activities.
To best prepare for a retirement, use these suggestions.
- Track possible retirees. While you might not know the exact date that a person may decide to retire, it can help to track the retirement plans of the more experienced staff. Just ask them what their plans are during their evaluations and ensure they know this is because you want to make sure transitions are smooth.
- Extend the notification date. The earlier you can know about an upcoming retirement, the better for everyone involved. Some might be able to give you their retirement date a year in advance, while others might be able to give six months. Once you know that timeline, you can make plans to…
- Have knowledge passed on. Since someone who has been with a company for a long time, they can provide knowledge that others cannot. You might ask this person to write down the things that they learned in their job so others can access them for training or for other purposes.
- Create a mentor role. Otherwise, you might also try to create a mentoring partnership between the soon-to-be-retired and another employee in their department. This will help to transmit information from one to the other, and it will ensure that nothing is lost when the retirement date comes.
On the other hand, when a layoff occurs, it can be more difficult to manage this transition. Since it is not always clear when these layoffs might be needed, and they might happen instantly, you need to have a different approach.
- Have a set role description. Whenever you hire someone, you should clearly define his or her role, their responsibilities, and the expectations. This will help another person step into the role if a layoff occurs, and it will help others know what tasks will not be performed. This description should also include what a typical day looks like.
- Update training records. The training records that you have on hand at your company should be clear and accurate. The more you are able to document how people should be trained, the easier it will be to train someone if they are brought into the company after a layoff.
- Have people train others on their jobs. Ideally, you want to make sure everyone can do someone else's job, since people do become sick or need to take time off. Try to find one other person (if not more) who can learn another job in the company. This way, everything is always covered and no one needs to worry about getting behind in his or her job if they are away.
- Have a plan B. Since layoffs are unpredictable, you can also have a plan B in place in case something unexpected happens. This might include hiring temporary workers or calling someone from a different department. Always be ready because your staff will look to you to see how they should handle the transition.
The layoffs you have will force you to reorganize your company, and not always in a way that you desire, depending on who made the decision.
Moreover, even though layoffs do occur, there are ways for you to make sure the transitions are not harmful to the rest of your team, even if it takes them some time to figure out the new arrangement.
Keeping People Performing
Sometimes, the most challenging part of a retirement or a layoff situation is keeping the rest of the team motivated to work. They might see the changes around them and feel as though they might be next in the layoff (or part of some other forced change).
To ensure that the transition from having certain people around to not having those people around is smooth and drama free, you need to focus on a few things within your company.
- Allow people to have their reactions. Even though it might seem better to tell everyone that he or she should not talk about the changes, you are not going to get a lot of compliance on this one. Instead, you need to make sure that you are allowing some space for people to vent, but then correct any misinformation.
- Be honest about changes. From the start, be clear about what is happening and what will change because of the shifts. When you are honest, your workers will know you are on their side and they will settle down, knowing that you will speak up if more things are going to happen.
- Have a plan in place. You should already have a plan to deal with the problems that arise from the transition, but if you do not, then you need to focus on creating a plan as soon as possible. Gather your most trusted workers and see what they would recommend if they were in charge of the entire company.
- Be clear about the future. No matter what happens at your company, the clearer you can be about change or even possible changes, the more your employees will remain loyal. When you do not speak up about what is happening that is when people can become nervous and start looking for work elsewhere.
You will need to keep doing what you have always been doing when retirements and reductions in force occur. While it should be business as usual, you cannot avoid the fact that things have changed.
Just be calm and clear about what is happening and people will find their way back to their assignments.