When you decide an employee needs to attend training to improve his performance or prepare for new responsibilities, you probably add up the cost of the training and the dollar value of the hours the employee will be away. But are you really doing everything possible to get the most from your training dollars? Here are some tips from the pros:
Set expectations in advance. Lay the groundwork ahead of time. Let the employee know that he is scheduled to attend training—and what he is expected to learn. Help him go into the training with his own expectations and objectives, so he can ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things.
Know what's involved in the program. Get a copy of the course materials. Talk with co-workers who've undergone the same training. If the program is being offered on site, drop in and observe. (Don't be worried that this will distract the trainer. Really professional trainers will welcome your interest and involvement.)Remember that training is work. Don't treat training like it's a vacation and expect the employee to come back with his batteries recharged, ready to do whatever is necessary to catch up. Make sure important duties are handled in his absence, so he can concentrate on learning—and, when he gets back, on putting that learning to use.
Ask the employee about the content. You need to know more than whether the training was fun, enjoyable or interesting. You don't need to give the employee a pop quiz, but you want and need to make the most of opportunities for the employee to share his new knowledge with you and others. You also want to know if it's worth sending other employees for the same training.Set a time for follow-up. Check to see if the employee's new knowledge is really being put into practice. Follow up after a week, a month or a few months to evaluate the staying power of the training. Pay attention so you'll know when you can step in as a coach to help the training stick.