Couple this fact with the fact that job candidates often cite the ability to work with a manager they respect and from whom they can learn as a top factor in making an employment decision. Then from a candidate’s or team member’s viewpoint, his or her boss is the single most important individual in the organization.
So, who better to train employees than their manager(s)? Managers who are actively engaged in employee training are in the best position to help their employees make the connection between training objectives and the day-to-day job responsibilities. These managers can better support on-the-job performance after the training has been completed. And, these managers are in tune with what’s happening with the business and with employee performance, quickly making training course adjustments if business targets are in danger of being missed.
Sounds great in theory, right? But, the issue, of course, is that training people takes time and effort. And because most managers don’t have “training” explicitly spelled out in their own job responsibilities, then making the time and effort to train their team members often falls very low on the priority list.
Fortunately, there are ways for managers to get started in actively training their employees—potentially yielding big results with minimal up front time investments. If you are a manager, here are ideas on how to get started in training your employees, even when your job title does not explicitly including “training”.
Invest in Your Own Training, and Be Vocal About It
Employees spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about or otherwise critiquing their managers. On the reverse side, managers are typically expected to critique (constructively, hopefully) their employees.
As a manager, you can turn this mutual critique process into a positive phenomenon if you develop self-awareness—or a clear understanding of the impact of your behavior on those around you. If you are honest with your employees about the areas where you need to develop your own skills and subsequently show your team that you are working on it and making progress, communication barriers will tumble down. Then, employees are willing to be more open and honest about the progress that they personally need to make as well. You will help to create an organizational culture of learning.
So as a first step before standing up and training your employees yourself, seek to fill your own learning gaps with appropriate training. And then get transparent and vocal with your team and co-workers about how the application of that training is going for you and the progress you’re making. You’ll find that people will become more amenable to joining in on the effort and seeking improvement through training as well.
Have Conversations and Kick Off Informal Learning Sessions
When you are ready to begin hosting training sessions yourself, it often helps to start with informal training first. For example: initiate conversations, ask people to share lessons learned, meet over lunch and discuss a pressing business issue and how to solve it, set up discussion forums for people to share strategies and options, ask employees to create personal learning plans. Basically, seek to share knowledge outside of a formal training situation.
The benefits of informal training include ramping up the number and quality of conversations surrounding improving performance, streamlining processes, and getting results. In addition, you may be able to collect valuable data to help you identify organizational learning goals you need to achieve. You can turn this information around into learning objectives for formal training courses. And, you'll likely line up subject matter experts (SMEs) who may be able to help you kick off those formal training courses down the line.
Dive In—Design and Deliver Training Yourself
Once informal training starts percolating throughout the organization and you have a better sense of the types of formal training that would be most effective for your team, consider designing, developing and delivering training yourself, or with a small team of which you are an integral part. Being closely involved with the training your employees will receive helps you to keep your finger on the team's collective pulse.
There are, of course, many ways to deliver training courses. Online training is a good choice; especially if you already have a modern, flexible LMS in place. With such LMS’ it’s straightforward to convert an existing training document, job aid, slide deck or video into a compelling online training course with quizzes, tie-ins to social media, and other ways to engage the learner. In addition, online training can be cost efficient, easily scalable, and can provide you with reports and training statistics. The article “7 Surprising Things You Could Learn by Accepting this Challenge” discusses seven compelling reasons to entice you to create an online training course in one day. If you choose to accept the challenge, please share with us what you learn from the process.
And When it’s Time to Outsource Training…
There are definitely times to outsource training. Here I use the term “outsource” to mean having anyone but yourself or your immediate team members create the training—be it your internal training department or external training contractors/companies. You may want to “outsource” larger projects or projects that require specialized skills in training design and development. Also, you may need to "outsource" training if you want to use proprietary training material under copyright by a third party, or you have a specific need to have someone removed from the organization to deliver the training message.
However, if you do outsource your training needs, please never move into “set and forget” mode. Be actively involved in setting learning objectives, getting measurements on ROI, tracking improvements, determining how to extend the learning to the job, and customizing examples in training to your organizational environment and culture. Too often, managers hire outside trainers and basically outsource all responsibility for learning outcomes. Then no one truly claims responsibility for ensuring learning success, and there's little ownership and accountability.
Start Small. Just Start.
Start small. Get feedback. Make course adjustments when necessary. Review. Refine. Add on later. In other words, be agile in your design and development of training. Even if you push out tiny nuggets of training to your employees at a time, you can still spark conversations, knowledge sharing and skill building. If you eventually decide to “outsource” the training, never outsource the training completely. Stay tied in, and you have a better chance of personally effecting improved organizational performance and results.
Have you seen managers spearhead training of their employees, or have you done so yourself? Please share your tips, tricks and lessons learned with us through our social media channels.
Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.