Organizations everywhere are becoming increasingly aware that skills gaps are lowering their chances of finding and keeping capable employees. Educators and employers have different perceptions of college graduates entering the field: 72 percent of educational institutions believe recent graduates are ready for work, but only 42 percent of employers agree. So, many organizations believe there’s a problem when it comes to hiring employees with the necessary skills. But what may be less clear is that failing to address skills gaps through training can also make it harder to retain worthy employees, who may be frustrated at not being able to grow and develop their skill set.
From the employee’s perspective, getting your foot in the right organization’s door is step one. Step two is fulfilling your role to the best of your abilities. They hired you, right, so obviously they think you have the potential to do so? But what if you are falling just a bit short in fulfilling the tasks your employer is asking of you? The answer may be to request skills training.
Training can go a long way toward addressing skills gaps, but maybe your employer or people within your organization just don’t see the need, or are reluctant to invest the necessary time and funds. Below I address five common misconceptions about training, and give you the information you need to convince others of the value of training.
It is too expensive. Sure, it can be a substantial charge to take on at once, but the results will last for years to come. For organizations to maintain credibility with their customers, they need to make sure their employees have the skills necessary to provide the services or create the products the customers will use. Seventy percent of organizations cite “capability gaps” as one of their top five challenges. Organizations can address these gaps by investing in their employees through onsite training. Such training can help employees work together as a group to build skills through exercises and discussions; training can also help them recognize gaps in their processes and identify ways to improve. Most importantly, the skills and lessons employees bring back to projects will no doubt yield a significant return on any investment in training.
Courses that are offered are not tailored for my organization. Often, organizations looking to train their teams find it challenging to pinpoint exactly what the skills gaps are. When seeking onsite training, it’s important to find the right solution for your organization’s unique needs. The training provider should have the expertise necessary to determine what type of training will best serve an organization’s needs. The training provider can then create a tailored solution to meet those needs.
Training will be a threat to our organization’s productivity. Ah, yes, this is always a concern for organizations. How can we do business as usual when our employees are busy training? This may be one of the most challenging concerns to address, especially for the learning and development department or even individual professionals trying to sell the need for training to their managers. Some organizations are concerned about “out of office” challenges when people are actually in a training class. The key to success is minimizing the number of hours required to learn new skills, while also maximizing retention through innovative course design and a true understanding of adult learning. I reached out to our Corporate Solutions Manager, Ann Chandler, for some insight on this. She noted, “A friend of mine once had their golf swing analyzed. At the end of the analysis session this friend said, ‘I can see what I’m doing wrong but I don’t want my game to get worse while I make the changes needed.’ If performance improvement is what you are after, then learning and practicing are required—there are no shortcuts. My bottom-line question to the organization would be, do you really want change? If so and you are concerned about reduced productivity, then let’s talk about options to shorten the learning curve and ingrain the new skills more quickly. This turns the conversation toward discussions of executive involvement, development plans, after-class action plans, accountability, and mentoring. There are many approaches you can take to secure success in a short amount of time. It all goes back to clearly understanding the goal of the training, the organization’s definition of success, and the journey required to reach it.”
Courses are only available in one format that will not work for my organization. Not true. Luckily, we live in the Information Age. With blogging, the cloud, numerous e-learning platforms, and social networking, this age has changed and will continue to change the way we learn. Our electronic devices are always within reach, making it infinitely easier for us to access information. Training doesn’t have to be onsite or even in person. For example, in addition to our onsite instructor-led options, RMC also offers courses in two other formats: self-directed e-learning (asynchronous learning) and instructor-led virtual training (synchronous learning). E-learning occurs outside the classroom, is self-paced, and is usually quicker and cheaper than other types of instruction, making it one of the more popular options for training. Instructor-led virtual training is most popular for groups of professionals seeking training, because of the ability to interact and communicate with the instructor and other classmates; it’s also cheaper than in-person training. Many corporations still prefer to host onsite classes to achieve the highest level of retention for the largest variety of adult learners. Often a carefully designed training plan with a blend of learning formats yields the best solution to successfully balance cost and effective learning.
After the training ends, there is no implementation option. As noted in number 3, above, a good training provider will offer outcome-based curricula and services such as mentoring, executive briefings, and action plans. Onsite coaching visits can be arranged to help the team implement the skills learned in training within the organization’s unique day-to-day operations. This add-on value will ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the training your team undergoes.
For the organization, training is a valuable tool that can address skills gaps that are holding employees back. For the employee, asking for what you need in order grow in your position should show that you are not only a valuable employee, but also that you have the confidence to make it happen. I hope that this post has been helpful for any employees and employers reluctant to use training to address their skills gaps. Let’s start a conversation. It would be interesting to hear about other misconceptions as well as helpful suggestions and personal experiences about training. Feel free to comment below.