This article relates to the Training competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction surveys. It tells the story of a group of team leaders who worked together to find ways to use information sharing and communication to provide valuable employee training. A Gallup poll conducted in 1998 reported that eight out of 10 employees said they would be more likely to stay with their present employer if they were offered more or better training. Specifically, the questions included in this competency are written to measure the adequacy, availability, content of training, and satisfaction with the delivery of training within your organization.
This short story, Ideas for Everyday Training, is part of AlphaMeasure's compilation, Tales From the Corporate Frontlines. It illustrates how one department, under training budget constraints, found creative, low cost ways to use communication as an effective training tool.
Sometimes, effective training involves little more than paying extra attention to everyday communication practices. In my department, we have regular lunch meetings, just to touch base and make sure that everyone is aware of any new practices and procedures being implemented company wide, or only within the department.
We started this practice last year, when coworkers began to complain that they were caught unaware when new equipment and job functions began to appear in the department. They were given brief and cursory instructional sessions and left to their own devices. Soon after, an employee satisfaction survey yielded disappointing results in regard to the training competency.
Departmental budgets were very tight at the time, and only very basic, company-wide training initiatives were even being considered for funding. So a few team leaders in our department got together to try to find some creative ways to provide department specific training for employees, without spending a lot of money. We developed a few mini training programs of our own that have yielded impressive results.
One idea that's been hugely successful is the above mentioned lunch program. Sometimes we go out somewhere nice to relax, sometimes we order in pizza, depending on our workload. Our manager prepares a brief agenda, including the latest news, along with suggestions for articles and informative websites that are relevant to our business. We have a question and answer period, and employees are encouraged to come prepared to voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions.
Another popular idea is our book discussion group. This activity, again, is completely voluntary, and it's amazing how many employees are enthusiastically involved. Members select topics and choose books to read and discuss that relate to our business, or general career development topics. The company buys the books at bulk discount, and the employees pay their own lunch tab to attend. A member of the company newsletter staff is usually present at the meetings and writes articles to share our learning with the rest of the company.
In fact, interest in these ideas has spread throughout the company, and other departments and teams have started their own groups. Supervisors meet to share information and provide support. They meet to search for cost-effective leadership training opportunities. Most importantly, these group efforts have shown us that communication and information sharing can be used as an effective form of training. In these times of tight training budgets, our company realizes that it has become even more important. For our employees, regular meetings often become brainstorming sessions that produce creative new training ideas that prove to be both effective and economical.
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Josh Greenberg is President of AlphaMeasure, Inc.
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