Customized / targeted training to meet a specific knowledge or skill gap is key in the training world today. People don’t have the time nor the energy to listen to “talking heads” droning on and on about pie-in-the-sky content in a webinar or zoom session.
One size training does NOT fit all. Employees receive training at best via Zoom sessions, e-learning, watching YouTube videos, taking online classes, checking Google and/or pulling stuff from the internet in bits and bytes. In addition, off-the-shelf training falls short in ensuring that knowledge and skill-based training impacts overall work performance. Can you relate to this scenario?
On many occasions, I’ve met with clients and they know the solution to the problem before we get started. They often begin with – “We need to train our team on communication skills, conflict, time management, customer service etc.” My first reaction is “that could be; however, let’s explore a few things before we come to that conclusion.”
To determine if training is the right solution to begin with, follow these 3 steps.
STEP 1: Ask the Right Questions
- What are the current challenges that you’re facing?
- What are the current market conditions?
- Is your business growing, shrinking, or staying the same?
- What symptoms are you observing from your customers, employees, vendors?
- What feedback are you receiving from customers, employees and vendors? What are they saying or “not saying”?
- What’s the current staff consist of?
- Have you hired new people lately?
- Have employees left? Do you know why?
- Are you leading a new team?
- What training have your employees gone through in the past?
- Do you have engaged employees? How do you know?
The answers are always in the questions. In fact, these questions represent what is referred to as Needs Analysis – basically a fancy word for identifying the real performance gap. I often advise my clients to “Slow Down in Order to Speed Up”. In other words, you will waste a lot of time and money by investing in training if you don’t bridge the performance gaps with the right stuff. Often times, the best approach involves more than one treatment – e.g., process and training, recruiting and on-boarding, etc. Take the time to evaluate the current situation and get answers to these questions.
There are needs analysis methods that you can employ, such as, interviews, surveys, observations, company records, focus groups, questionnaires, etc. The main point is to figure out the key questions before you begin assessing the current situation.
STEP 2: Identify the ACTUAL Performance Gap (People, Process, Product)
Performance problems fall into three primary categories and in all shapes and sizes.
There are many indicators and clues that surface when you dig into each one prior to coming up with the right solution. Let’s take a brief look at all three.
First and foremost, do you have the right people doing the right things for the right reasons? This big question pertains to hiring the right people in the first place. Do you have staff that perform well and meet expectations or do they perform marginally, no matter what you say or feedback or incentives you provide? Do you have an effective onboarding plan in place? How do you handle poor performing employees? Do you allow them to stay and keep doing what they always have?
One of the most difficult things to do as a leader is to be honest and take care of employee situations that have been allowed to continue. It’s a real choice to make in terms of dealing with difficult situations or not. The hardest situations in working with clients have been to let go of employees who cause more problems than what it’s worth.
Do your teams perform well together? Do they know each other? Do they trust and respect one other?
Oftentimes, what you find is that teams don’t have the right sauce or ingredients to work together and get things done. It can be one person who spoils the entire sauce if you’re not careful. Can you think of a situation when one person rubbed people the wrong way and before you know it, people were quitting without really telling you why?
I’ve worked for companies where the leaders say, “people are the most important aspect of our business” and then turn around and not put their money where their mouth is. Can you relate to this?
What about individual contributors? Have they received the training that they deserve in order to perform and exceed expectations? It’s also important to identify performance gap on an individual basis as it relates to KSAM – Knowledge, Skill, Aptitude, Motivation.
- Knowledge – do they KNOW it?
- Skill – can they perform the task?
- Aptitude – are they able?
- Motivation – do they want to perform? Are they engaged or not?
Do you have procedures in place that employees follow?
That’s super important to record and monitor people performance. Without the proper expectations and documentation to follow, employees often perform without knowing what’s expected in the first place. What also happens is that people do their own thing unless they are instructed and trained properly to follow procedures and processes. This is where customer complaints, poor service, and poor results come into play.
The most important thing to make sure you have in place is Standard Operating Procedures, then train employees, and measure performance by those standards. Accountability and continuity is the name of the game!
Product and/or Service – whatever you market and sell to a customer base makes up this category. Do you have product that meets customer needs? Do you provide outstanding service that supports your customers so that they come back? Is your product competitively priced an embedded with value? Do you employ a strategic, innovative approach to product development?
As you can see, each one of these elements, people, process, product come with more questions than answers. Perhaps you’ve already put some thought into these questions. If so, do you have a plan for addresses the gaps that you’ve identified and prioritized the items in your plan?
STEP 3: Customize the Training with REAL WORLD situations, cases, etc.
Based on the responses to steps 1 and 2, you’ve come to the forgone conclusion that training is the right approach. In fact, training can be applied to addressing all three “P’s” as long it addresses this question:
“What do my employees need to KNOW and / or DO in order to perform the job, tasks, and responsibilities of their work?”
What’s MOST important about training is to include relevant, realistic, and real-world situations and/or scenarios that provide the structure for the knowledge and skill to be included in the training. This is where the “off-the-shelf training” can be a good thing or a bad thing. As long as the content can be customized and integrated into real-world scenarios, you are setting up the training to be converted to application and retention. Successful training needs to ensure that employees use the content and skills that are included.
The next time you want your employees to go through training, take a few moments to take a step back and really think about what you want to accomplish with this training. Apply due diligence to assessing the real situation and gap before you go forth with training for training sake.
Training is a Waste of Time and Money without the Why and How to support the What.
Reach out and request a needs analysis te to help you decipher the REAL Performance Gap.