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Employee Training - Track It And They Will Come

Dec 8, 2007
Yes, the times they are a changing, that has always been true ... but with technology in the picture, the changes are so rapid that what we learned yesterday is likely to be outdated tomorrow. In today's world we must never stop learning, and if we have a workforce, we must never stop teaching.

We used to outsource our simple blue-collar tasks to other countries. Those same countries are now hungry for more advanced tasks, and they have an eye on our white-collar jobs, too. Technology has made the world a smaller place. Freelancers and contract organizations don't have to be in expensive urban locations to provide similar services while undercutting us. We're competing for sales with everyone, whether they are in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the towers of Beijing, or the urban sprawl of New Delhi.

Well-trained employees are one of our best weapons in this competition. But we have all heard the call to arms, we have often beat the training drum, only to have the sound quickly fade into background noise.

Why does this happen? Why is it such a challenge to keep our workforce honed and ready? How do we stop going through the motions and start combining our people and systems in a meaningful way?

I've found that there are three types of people in the workforce: the eager learner, the willing soldier, and the clever avoider. The eager learner will seek out new knowledge with enthusiasm. The willing soldier will accept new learning as part of their job and will participate in the programs presented to them. And the clever avoider excels at innovative ways to get out of the next training session.

Eager learners will just go out and get it. If they have access to information, nothing will stop them. You just have to hope it's the right information. As for the other two groups, it's a hit and miss proposition unless you put together a program or system to formally present, track, and administer training programs.

You probably can't change which category your employees fall into. But people do respond to systems and routines - we all have to put up with it, whether we're in an airport screening line or applying for more credit. And the better the system, the more cooperative the participant. So set up a good system and half the battle is over.

How do you set up a good system? It comes down to two things - momentum and technology.

Momentum can come from surprising sources. Something happens to inspire a "training" or "education" message, and an email goes out. It could be a lost contract, an up and coming competitor, a lawsuit, or maybe the President just attended his daughter's school's commencement speech and is all fired up. But this momentum can be difficult to maintain. However important it may seem at the outset, however much play it may seem to get, it can easily get lost amidst the need to meet deadlines, process paperwork, and answer email.

Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." She may not have been thinking about Human Resources Managers when she said this, but her message has a powerful resonance for them nevertheless. The next time the training issue is hot, it's up to you to seize the day. Now is the time to implement an employee training and tracking software system. The long term rewards will be well worth the time and effort.

The technology part is surprisingly easy and pretty impressive. Today's software has the flexibility to define training requirements by job type, job code, or at an individual level. As classes are completed, an employee skills list can be automatically updated. Required certifications and continuing education requirements can be easily tracked. The end result: a better trained, more prepared staff - which was really the whole goal in the first place.

I'm most familiar with Sage Abra HRMS, an integrated group of human resources management and support software. With its Train module you can handle enrollment and tracking, program management, certifications, program cost management, locations and logistics, class correspondence and reporting.

If you'd like some help analyzing your training management needs - let me know. Whether you just need that component or you're looking for help in other human resources and payroll functionality, we can help.

Email me at solutions@ACIconsulting.com or visit us at www.ACIconsulting.com and I'll put our team to work on it.
About the Author
Douglas Luchansky is the President of ACI Consulting, a reseller for HRMS related software and services such as Sage Abra HRMS software.
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