A training program refers to a substantial activity that involves a trainer or trainers and group of trainees. The trainers are well versed with the skills to be imparted to their clients. In a business, a trainer could be an external consultant conveying a completely new skill to an organization’s employees or an established employee teaching the necessary skills to new workers. In the first case, the company desires to reduce the expenses of outsourcing while in the second it probably wishes to reduce the workload of each existing employee.
For any organization to forge ahead successfully, training is an important ingredient of this eventuality. Imparting of new skills, advancement of a certain skill or complete familiarization of a new employee with the company roles are all processes that call for training. In order for the company to realize the desired changes with the minimum cost, the choice of training program to be applied has to be made wisely. During the management process, the executive members of the company should sustain a close working relationship with the active department leaders and recruitment personnel in the maintaining a methodical approach to the training. A ‘rifle’ approach is preferred as a more appropriate method of training than the ‘short gun’ methodology. Therefore, for any organization that intends to involve itself in any preparations, the following steps or stages will always come in handy.
Stages in the training program
Before any training can begin, the company should conduct a needs analysis. This entails establishing importance of the supposed training to the organization. In due process, the organization singles out the method of training that is most relevant, the best time for it, the most appropriate location, the supposed trainer and the intended trainees. In this stage, one also establishes the overall procedure for the training. Establishment of the training details goes a long way in helping the organization identify the precise knowledge, abilities and approaches that develop employee performance. This should be in line with the company’s rules and standards. The most appropriate way to identify these details is through gap analysis. This is achieved by obtaining a detailed comparison of the present results and the targeted performance. Alternatively, the company can treat each participant in the team as a vital stakeholder in the entire process. This treatment should resemble that accorded to the customers. The participants can avail the appropriate specifications since they are the immediate recipients of the training. They are in the perfect position to determine the areas they need help especially in the efficient delivery of the goods or services and in the proper handling of the customers. A needs analysis forms the preliminary end of any training bent on developing the individual or company performance. Moreover, this evaluation helps the organization test the usefulness of the training. All the training aims begin to take form during this phase of the training. It is crucial to note that any company that embarks on training before undergoing the rigorous effort of obtaining the appropriate details ends up wasting funds and time in the process (Alfande, 2011, p.1).
Once the training details have been identified, the planning follows. The planning refers to the development of training schedules and handbooks. It is aimed at advancing a link between the identified needs and the intended new curriculum or the modified present curricula. Based on the needs advanced by the customers (participants), the drafts of the training are drawn. Here, the present job descriptions are made, and the guiding principles as well as processes identified. The functional considerations of the training program are also taken into account during this phase. It is vital that statements which offer the job description should be clear and accurate for the relevant guidelines to be established. Questions of delivery of the intended program on the company’s business processes should also be raised. Answers to these questions help the managers in charge identify the decisions they should make in order to back the program. Once the job description is complete, each duty within the plan should have its principles and processes established. This sets up the guidelines not only for the present but also for the subsequent future training in the development of better products (Alfande, 2011, p.1).
This phase also carries the identification and the provision of the relevant materials for the training program. Such materials are inclusive of the applicable references, case studies, games and relevant optical supports. As these are evaluated, the feedbacks from the previous lessons are revisited. In addition, the program should be updated by adjusting the statistical information and uncovering the new stories to keep the trainees entertained. This helps them grasp more.
The third step refers to the actualization of the training program. The most essential part of this stage is the identification of the rightful trainer to impart the required skill to the trainees. An effective trainer should have a combination of certain key attributes. An inner desire to impart his/her possessed working knowledge of the particular subject and the ability to impart the urge to learn are vital attributes. The trainer should have a strong sense of humor to help in making the training sessions lively besides possessing the ability to strike a rapport with the participants. Once the appropriate trainers have been identified, establishment of the training method is made. The technique can be one-on-one training, group training or holding of seminars. Here the relevant activities include practice and application of feedback forms. There should be good management with a keen eye to observe any changes that may arise. The set-up of the training area and equipment coupled with rules, guiding goals and safety precautions are crucial for this phase. Whichever the method, the trainers should ensure that there is a friendly environment, proper planning, efficient communication and dedicated participation from the trainees themselves (Alfande, 2011, p.1).
The last step is basically an evaluation of the training program. All the outputs of any program relate directly to its inputs, approaches and amendments. The techniques for this evaluation include survey of the customer responses; analysis of the costs involved, realized returns and changed customer satisfaction. For effectiveness, evaluation should be carried out just after the end of the program and after a period of averagely six months since the date of the program. Immediate evaluation serves to correct all the urgent training problems such as in accurate data. The later evaluation, on the other hand, identifies how the training was effective in meeting its intended goal. Through this analysis, the efficiency of both the training official and the training program itself are also assessed. Feedback on the trainer’s performance allows them to improve their training skills for future programs besides indicating the cost-effectiveness of the program. Metrics such as Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are often recommended in the monitoring of performance in the later stages evaluation. This metric evaluates the employee’s revenue generation rate, nonattendance, production statistics and the resultant customer satisfaction.
Training program versus capacity building
Another program commonly utilized by companies in their attempt to improve their market performance by appealing to more customers is capacity building. Unlike a training program, it takes the form of an apprenticeship. It begins with trainer or the adviser handling all the tasks involved in the specific job. The trainer is again versed with the relevant skills required for the training process. The participants merely observe without actively engaging themselves in the process. The trainer is also responsible for checking the quality of all the productivities. Achievement of all the results is entirely the adviser’s duty (AusAID, 2006, pp. 2-3).
This is followed by the guided stage. Here, the planning of the activities is done by the trainer with the assistance of other counterparts. Just as participants assist in the coming of the needs specification in the training program, the counterparts help plan the activities of the capacity building. These participants then engage themselves in the straightforward features of the task under the supervision of the adviser. The complex activities are only handled with the assistance of the adviser in charge. During this stage, the trainer’s control is still felt greatly, and the participants do not comprehend the importance of a majority of the exercises conducted. They merely follow the instruction of the trainer on what to do or not do. The range of the tasks bestowed on them may not be clear thus they may not know when to request for help. Checking of the quality the outcomes is also the adviser’s responsibility during this stage.
The third step is denoted as assisted. The adviser’s control is greatly reduced by now, and the participants can handle a majority of the complex tasks with great ease. However, the participants plan their work with the assistance of the adviser. The trainer’s main job lies then in supporting with infrequent follow through of activities. During this stage, the counterparts are aware of the occasional periods when they require the assistance of the trainer. The quality control role is assumed by the participants but with reference to the adviser’s sample. Participants also understand their responsibility for the outcomes of each task (AusAID, 2006, pp. 2-3).
The final stage is the independent step. During this stage, the entire planning of the activities to engage in becomes the sole responsibility of the counterparts. They can handle the delegated tasks by themselves and only ask for the services of the adviser as an external consultant. However, a majority can work independently without necessitating any help from the adviser. The responsibility for all the tasks is assumed by the participants and checking of the quality of all the outcomes ceases to be the job of the adviser. Different labels may be used to identify the stages, but the sequence is unchanged (AusAID, 2006, pp. 2-3).
The similarities and differences between the two procedures are numerous. First, each of them engages the services of a trainer or adviser in the process besides having active participants. Planning of the activities to be carried out is common to the two although the training program involves the development of booklets. Before either the training program or the capacity building program kicks off, the relevant material or information has to be gathered for successful results. Moreover, in both cases the participation of the counterparts or the trainees is very important. In the training program, the participants are asked to respond to various issues while in the capacity building they are expected to actively participate in the attainment of the varied outputs. The success of the capacity building is measured by the ability of the participants to handle all the activities independently. Unlike the training program, the capacity building does not entail the evaluation process. Neither, the immediate or the later evaluation is required in capacity building. However, a capacity building can be assumed to cover only the implementation stage of the training program. It can be used in the delivery of a training program as earlier described. A training program can be, therefore, said to be a broader perspective of capacity building (Brown et al., 2001. p. 31).
Importance of results of capacity development programmes
For any company to engage in capacity building there must be benefits derived from it. The main goal of any organization is to maximize its profits and minimize its losses. The results of the capacity development programmes help the employees gain new skills that might prompt future innovations which add value to the company. Moreover, the transfer of the skills from the adviser or trainer to the participants reduces the repetitive costs of outsourcing a particular skill. The organization can, therefore, secure more returns quickly without any increase in costs. Only the initial costs of the capacity development programme are met. In addition, all the subsequent employees can gain the same skills without requiring the services of an adviser. The impact of these programmes is vital as it leads to positive customer responses and increased sales. This is in line with the company’s goal of keeping the revenues on the maximum and costs on the minimum.
In order to illustrate the importance of the capacity development programme, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s, TrainForTrade program, comes in handy. This program has an aim to improve trade specialties in the public and private sectors of the economies of the developing countries. It provides knowledge on trade besides creating opportunities for its application and adaptation of the local settings. In Cambodia and Lao PDR, it has helped in increasing trade and investment greatly. TrainForTrade has availed training workshops and consultative services on e-commerce to these countries for eight years. Through these efforts, the two countries have already closed regulation on e-commerce as per the standards of the Association of South-East Asian nations (ASEAN). After port training, the authorities of Phnom and Sihanoukville took up the training process. Through attendance of a 230-training and closing study memoirs, several official obtained UNCTAD port Training Programme that enabled them to impart training on other participants during the following sessions. Through use of the capacity building, the UNCTAD enabled these economies to grow by generating increased revenue from investment and eliminating the need for future training in these countries (UNCTAD 2007, p.1).
- AusAID. 2006. A staged Approach to Assess, Plan and Monitor Capacity Building.
- Brown, L., LaFond A. & Macintyre K. 2001. Measuring Capacity Building.
- Infande, A. 2011. The Four Basic Steps in the Training Process. Web.
- UNCTAD. 2007. Some examples of UNCTAD capacity-building and training programmes.