Friday, August 31, 2007

How much training do we need at work?

September 2007 - One of the most asked questions by perspective employees is how much on-the-job training is available. Employers know top candidates want training and have a full pocket full of answers ranging from management to technical training. Some companies (including mine) even offer foreign language training. "Me llamo Mac!" How much do we really need though?

When an employee first starts there is a need for human resource and job specific training. I'll give everyone that. Here is where it gets sticky in my mind. In addition, there is often a need to send employees for new technology training.

From all the training I've been in, I've observed a large percentage of individuals treating training like a vacation away from the office. Sure, we all need time away, but that's why we get personal days. When a company is paying for us to become subject matter experts, they don't expect us to take off early, show up late, or spend the entire time instant messaging our wife. These are all observations I've made in my most recent off-site training.

So here is my solution. Train everyone on human resource and job specific tasks. Then reward people with off-site training who you know will treat training like any day in the office. Sending the average employee is often a mistake as your $3000 in training fees and $1500 in travel expenses will be wasted.

When the below-average-employee asks why you didn't send them or why they've not had any training opportunities in the past year, tell them the truth. You're not going to send people who won't respect the opportunity and apply the knowledge they learned. This solves two problems; first your being candid with employees who need to improve their performance. Second, you're not wasting $4500 on some slug to spend time telling his wife how much he loves her, over, and over, and over again.

The savvy below-average-employee will become upset. They'll argue their lack of performance is due to, non other than, lack of training. Don't fall into their trap. Before sending them off-site make them improve their performance and prove they are worth of additional training. Training is a privilege that not everyone deserves. Make sure you reward your best employees and not waste money on people who don't deserve it.

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