Tailored Training Programs
Are they really that effective in the workforce?
This article first appeared on Acorn Resources in February 2021.
You may have heard of something called a skills gap. Thanks to emerging technology, a gig economy and increasing automation, necessary skills are both constantly changing and going out of date, fast. That aforementioned gap then develops where organisations struggle to hire and maintain employees with the right skills. And while a skills gap is not necessarily an organisation's doing, it's unfortunately their problem to correct.
Enter tailored training. It allows you to zero in on specific learning outcomes, budgetary requirements and business objectives, regardless of location or the size of your cohort. But why else consider a tailored training solution?
Why you need to tailor your employee training
The skills gap is a fancy and foreboding term to describe a mismatch between the skills you as an employer rely upon your employees to have, and the capabilities employees actually possess. Not only does an imbalance make it hard for organisations to recruit highly skilled workers, but it's also then difficult to retain adaptable workers. (Key word: adaptable. Memorise it for later.)
59% of employees believe training improves their job performance, according to Survey Monkey, and 62% are then inspired to stay up-to-date on current events in their field. And LinkedIn's 2019 Workforce Learning Report found 94% of employees would stay longer at an organisation that invested in their learning. So, not only are you insuring against capability gaps but also improving productivity and efficiency, motivating staff to be continuously invested in industry events that impact your organisation and enhancing workplace culture. Win-win.
What 'tailored' means
It's important to note tailored does not mean inflexible; if anything, your training solution must be flexible to truly be tailored. Consider this: if your current training programs are designed to 'push' coursework onto learners rather than encourage them to 'pull' knowledge themselves, you may find enthusiasm and engagement wanes.
In this sense, 'tailored' means not only building a training initiative that addresses gaps in knowledge in your organisation, but creating a personalised and flexible learning experience for each individual in your workforce. Tailoring training to schedules (e.g. part-time vs full-time), priorities (families or second jobs) and preference for delivery (self-directed, groupwork, instructor-led, online) in itself trains employees for flexibility - developing behaviours that allows them to cope with changing demands alongside capabilities that help them evolve in their careers as well as contribute to the market competitiveness of your organisation.
Benefits for your organisation
Training that is bespoke to your organisation speaks for itself: it meets your unique capability needs in alignment with any business strategies or outcomes. But aside from developing skills, there are less tangible but equally crucial benefits to tailored training programs. We're talking the development of mindsets.
Train for adaptability
People can often be rigid or habitual in their response to challenges. This is problematic when previous patterns no longer inform current issues; hence why you want employees who can adapt, i.e. change in pursuit of success. An important aspect of adaptability is that of learning and unlearning, or being able to recognise that what once worked may not work now. The ability to adapt ties into a number of other crucial soft skills such as:
- Ability to learn
- Digital literacy
- Problem solving.
Employees who are taught to be flexible in the short-term and adaptable in the long-run contribute to an effective culture that both wants to learn and is steadfast in the face of disruption, especially those in leadership roles. Take project managers; if they can't amalgamate the various moving parts of a project, it's a sure bet the end product won't be high quality or delivered on time, which ultimately affects your profit and reputation.
The bottom line
Adaptability is more or less a lesson in thinking. Training for adaptability creates employees who are motivated, curious about change, not easily discouraged by failure or turbulence and innovative in their problem-solving.
Develop growth mindsets
The concept of mindset is often divided into two opposing states: fixed and growth. Fixed mindsets believe that our knowledge and intelligence are unchangeable. Success is inextricably tied to intelligence and failure is not an option. A growth mindset thrives on challenges and sees failure as a platform for learning and growth. Which would you rather in your employees?
It's important to consider mindsets as training and development programs should work to evolve ways of thinking, not just skillsets. When employees believe their abilities are set in stone, they often try to prove themselves at this fixed 'level' of intelligence. This can create an unhealthy and competitive workplace, rather than a collaborative one that celebrates and effectively utilises strengths.
The bottom line
Offering tailored training for individuals signals all learned, conveys your organisation values perseverance as much as talent and talent and empowers employees to want to continuously learn and grow.
Let's think about how low self-confidence can manifest in the workplace:
- More workdays missed
- Decreased quality of work
- Lowered output and efficiency
- Unpleasant working environment
- Increased employee turnover.
Tailored training designs the pace and focus of curriculum to address the needs, interests and strengths (or lack thereof) of individuals. It can be delivered at a moment of need ('intervention'), to practice or hone existing skills or develop new capabilities - but whatever the reason, custom learning pathways help build a culture of confidence.
Creating tailored training programs conveys an investment in an individual's growth and a respectful way to address insecurities people may have with their own skillsets. Insecure employees are less likely to try new approaches or develop beneficial behaviours, inhibiting their own creativity and success along with your organisation's. It's really as simple as asking yourself if you do your best work when you're not feeling good about yourself.
The bottom line
A tailored training program that builds on strengths and develop weaknesses and match learning paces and styles shows you value what makes each employee an individual, in turn giving them the confidence to utilise new skills and flex existing ones.
If you've done a skills gap analysis, you'll likely be aware of the crucial capabilities your organisation is lacking or only just developing. These will most likely align with your current or future business objectives, and directly impact your organisation's unique selling point, which allows your organisation to retain market competitiveness.
Many training programs strive to ensure employees are continuously learning, so there is no endpoint to the knowledge they may learn - and no pause to the velocity at which they drive a business forward. It's simple: for an organisation to stay relevant, their employees must retain relevant skills. When an employee's capabilities hit their use-by-date, so too does their ability to think creatively, produce innovatively and work efficiently, simply because they won't have been trained how to for the current state of their industry.
The bottom line
An organisation can't have a USP without employees skilled in the aspects that contribute to that USP. Without a USP, an organisation lacks competitive advantage. Lacking competitive advantage will be felt in profitability, customer loyalty and employee morale. When those drop, so too does the steed in which an organisation's reputation is held. In conclusion: your capabilities keep you relevant.