How to Make Trainings Critical


Just between you and me…

  • Have you ever skipped training because something more important came up?
  • Has a supervisor ever pulled you out of class because they needed you on a conference call?
  • Did you ever not returned to training after break? Perhaps you thought it was a better use of your time to catch up on the emails and calls that you’d missed?
  • Have you ever brought your ‘real work’ with you to class so you didn’t get behind while you had to be in training?

My guess is that you answered yes to at least one of those questions.

The question then to my training colleagues is this: Why is training taking a back seat in the business of your agency?

One reason this is happening is that many training functions have not found a way to become a critical partner. As a critical partner they would be directly involved in helping agencies meet their strategic imperatives and/or business goals.

Think about it:

If an employee knew they had to do X tomorrow and that X is critical to the success of their team and their team is working on a program that links to a business goal that is reported to Congress…I bet they wouldn’t skip a minute of today’s class on X.

So how do you become a critical partner?

Step 1: Do your homework

  • Read the agency’s strategic plan. What are the most critical outcomes?
  • Ask managers what their priorities are for the upcoming year.
  • Find out what outcomes and results your senior leaders are responsible for at the end of the year.

Step 2: Identify the needs

  • Ask leaders what might cause them or their team not to meet the objectives, priorities, outcomes, and results. Sift their answers down to what is impacted by employees knowledge or skills.
  • Assess the proficiency of employees on the knowledge and skills identified as preventing or supporting the ability to meet the objectives by manager and/or employee self-reports.

Step 3: Link training to strategy

  • Assess which knowledge and skills have the largest gaps and have the closest link to achieving the objectives, priorities, outcomes, and results.
  • Review the training offered and/or planned in the upcoming year. Rate each course on the potential impact it would have on increasing proficiency in the critical areas.
  • The outcome of these two strategies is where to focus any training resources for the year.

Step 4: Communicate the link

  • Add language to course announcements about which strategic priorities are supported.
  • Report no-show rates to leaders in terms of risk to meeting agency priorities.

So the next time you find a class half full, I want you to ask

  1. His/her leadership: What strategic initiatives will be at risk because only half the people attended the class?
  2. The employees: What competed with their time to attend the class versus whatever he/she did instead?
  3. Yourself: What can my team and I do to ensure we communicate the importance of the course? Can we help remove (or reduce) the competing factors that prevent class attendance?

Dana Sims is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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