Training Done Right

To get the most out of your sessions, assess goals and follow up

Whatever size business you may operate, chances are your staff has engaged in some sort of training in the past 12 months and will again next year. But before you spend more money for computer training, sales or another function, make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

Training is used in companies of all types but seldom is it used to its maximum potential. Terry Thompson is president of the Thompson Group in Hamilton, New Jersey, a sales process improvement firm that provides training services and helps companies measure training efficiency. She says most companies fail to appropriately measure the effectiveness of the training they receive. “Lots of companies do the same sort of training year after year without ever looking to see how useful it is,” says Thompson. “That’s a waste of money. Why keep doing it if you don’t know whether it will benefit you?”

To get the most out of your training, plan carefully on the front end and follow up when it’s complete. Thompson says a training plan should include three steps:
The assessment. Set goals and outline objectives. Specify what you want the training to accomplish and in what format (i.e., role playing, lecture, workshop). Look at any reining your company may have had in the past and evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t. You don’t want to repeat ineffective techniques.

Also determine the cost of training, which can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per employee for courses held by top-notch trainers. This cost covers virtually all types of training ranging from computer to diversity and includes all materials (i.e., worksheets, videos, etc.) needed for discussions.

Savvy business owners are wise to establish a training budget. To determine how much to allocate, look at your previous year’s training expenditures and factors that impact on your training budget (i.e., hired new employees, expanding types of training, using more than one consultant, etc.)

The return on investment is specific to each business. There’s no hard and fast formula for gauging how that $10,000 worth of computer training, for example, will increase the number of orders processed by 50%. If you train employees on a new order processing application or a local area computer network, you’re going to see increased productivity and fewer errors, both of which work to fatten your bottom line.

Even soft skill training for things like diversity in the workplace and effective time management indirectly impact revenues by improving the culture and morale of your workplace, thus helping to reduce turnover, which can be very costly.

Training selection. Having the right company or individual to run your program is crucial. Secure references, demonstration tapes and even visit the trainer at someone else’s facility to see them in action. Ask for an executive presentation to view what elements and style will be used. You should have a clear picture of the program before it’s presented to your staff.

Evaluation. Based on the goals you set in the assessment phase, determine whether the training measured up. Thompson says to obtain the

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