Many factors influence the success of any company: its competitive environment, the quality of its products or services, its name recognition. One factor, however, stands above all of them: the people who work there -- the employee performance. And it's your responsibility as an HR manager to make sure they can live up to their potential and provide adequate exposure to training and development.
Nurturing the skills necessary must be at the core HR activity. Here are the four main areas of training and development every company should invest in:
1. Improving productivity
Whether you manufacture products or offer services: The level of productivity and efficiency determines your profit margins. You should therefore continuously monitor and optimise your employees' skill set necessary to work productively:
• Methodologies: Do they use the most efficient ways to achieve their goals? Would they benefit from learning better methods?
• Processes: Are people using outdated and inefficient processes just because "it's always been that way"? Are they able to recognise if a process is broken -- and if not: How can they be taught to become more aware of those issues and come up with solutions?
• Tools and technology: Are you providing people with the best tools they need for accomplishing their tasks? Do they know how use them adequately? Do they need regular update trainings because the technology they're using is constantly evolving?
2. Maintaining quality & innovation
If you want to have sustainable growth and beat the competition, you need state-of-the-art, high-quality products or services. There are several areas that can help you ensure this:
• Fostering special skills: Knowledge and technology grow at a faster rate than ever before. Make sure your employees are able to keep developing their areas of expertise -- and that their job roles let them explore their greatest strengths.
• Doubling down on quality standards: Don't take quality for granted -- set explicit standards in every area of your organization and make sure everyone knows them. Offer regular quality workshops to discuss the importance of quality for success and sustainable customer relationships.
• Encouraging company-wide participation: Don't leave it to the R&D department to come up with great ideas. Instead, encourage all employees to contribute their ideas, initiatives, critical feedback, bug reports etc. Establish open discussion boards where people can exchange thoughts about product / service related issues.
3. Supporting interaction and cooperation
In almost all companies, successes depend not only on individual performances but on how well teams are able to work together. There are three areas in this domain that can be influenced with good training:
• Efficiency of collaboration: This includes knowing how to prepare, conduct, and follow-up meetings efficiently, how to present a topic in front of a specific target group (e.g. own team, the CEO, customers), and how to structure an e-mail for better comprehensibility and overview.
• Culture and atmosphere: To support a feeling of unity, a common goal, and the willingness to cooperate and help one another within the company, enable employees to learn how to give and receive feedback and criticism, how to listen actively, and how to de-escalate and resolve conflict situations.
• Leadership: People managers have a great influence on both the satisfaction and the productivity of their direct subordinates. Provide them with the training and development they need and establish a mentoring program for prospective people managers, to ensure they're ready to lead when they get promoted.
4. Enabling autonomous learning
As human resources managers, you won't be able to offer seminars and workshops for every skill and every piece of knowledge employees may need. However, you can foster people's innate motivation to develop their expertise and to advance to the next level:
• Individual learning goals: Ask your people managers to discuss with their team members in which areas they would like to improve. Make sure employees are given time and space to learn.
• Learning how to learn: Offer courses,trainings and studying material about efficient learning techniques, time management, and goal achievement strategies to help employees become better independent learners.
• Easily accessible resources: Provide employees with sources for acquiring skills and knowledge that are available whenever and wherever they need them, such as access to e-learning platforms.
These are the main areas for training and development regardless of the industry your company belongs to. They are a worthy investment in the future of your company -- and not only will they boost your employees' performance, they will also lead to higher job satisfaction and, therefore, better retention rates.