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What technology training does your staff need?

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

You want to squeeze the most value from your technology training dollars. But short of gazing into a crystal ball, you aren't quite sure how to predict your future training needs. Try this step-by-step approach to identify the best areas to invest your training dollars.

- Do a "360-degree" scan. List all of the factors and trends that could influence the things your staff will need to learn about during the next year, such as changing markets or rapid technological change. Ask your people to contribute their ideas — and gain more insights by talking with your boss and others who are familiar with your field.

- Identify upcoming challenges. Consider the impact of these factors and trends on your department. What challenges will these issues raise, and what skills will you and your staff need to meet those challenges? For example, if new technology is likely to be introduced, can you predict what skills will be required to make the most of it?

- Take an inventory. Identify the skills and abilities your people currently have or are developing. This is where it's especially important to get employees' input; you might be surprised to discover new skills they're learning. Don't forget to include your own developing skills in this inventory.

- Identify potential training needs. Match your inventory to the list of skills you think will be needed in the future. Determine whether any gaps would actually be helped with training, or if some other factor is at work. You may find that you really need to reorganize work assignments, performance plans, or compensation and reward structures.

- Prioritize the list. If you have a long list of training needs and not enough budget to cover them all, sort them into three categories: must do, should do, and nice to do. Think about other, creative ways to make your training dollars stretch even further. For example, you might send only one employee to a formal program, then have her train the rest of the staff.

- Revisit the plan regularly. Review your plan regularly — every three months is a good target — to see what progress is being made toward your training objectives. Look for newly emerging trends, update your staff 's skill inventory, identify new gaps, and review your training priorities.

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