Documentation and Profitability – Together Forever: Part III.
Yes, I know that training programs are usually not at the top of anyone’s list for increasing profitability. There are always exceptions though, and a well-trained, efficient, and effective staff can never be detrimental to the bottom line.
Let’s say you decide to expand your company’s training program. It’ll cost scarce dollars, but your idea is that employees will absorb the training and use it, and that its costs will be more than offset by the productivity of a rejuvenated workforce. That’s great if several things happen. The training has to be tuned to your workforce, to your infrastructure, and to your products and services. It has to be scheduled at times when the trainees are available, it can’t be at a time when their required attendance will annoy them (such as scheduling it in the evening or during their lunch break), and it has to be presented in a way that encourages them. All of the conditions will generate documentation such as lesson plans and handouts, classroom layout and equipment requirements, training aid descriptions, training schedules and records, proficiency exams, and revised work schedules that accommodate the training. And don’t forget the new or revised documentation that may have made the training necessary. For example, you may have revised a shop procedure, a marketing plan, or a shipping container’s specification to reduce an unacceptably high product failure rate. That change is put in place and now you must familiarize your workforce with the change you made.
What can go wrong? Plenty, if you forget that a successful training program is more than a lesson plan, a test, and a handshake. You have to remember the human side of the training equation or your training dollars are wasted and your profitability stays down. The training has to transfer the necessary information and develop the desired skill set. It has to be presented in a way that’s acceptable to the trainees while minimizing the possibility of confusion or misunderstanding. It has to be presented in a place that’s conducive to training, under conditions that encourage learning, and at a time when the trainees are receptive. The trainees have to be rewarded for their efforts, and the training has to be reinforced before it fades.
It sounds like a tall order, but it’s not. It’s just a matter of documenting the problem, finding a solution, and designing a training program that considers the problem, the solution, the trainees, and the necessary resources.
That training program will include planning that focuses on what is to be taught, planning that includes a learning environment that encourages the results you want, planning that minimizes the training’s impact on normal operations, and planning that considers the training’s impact on the people to be trained. The resources are the facilities that will be set aside for the training, the training material, and properly qualified trainers who know the material, know how to communicate the material, and know how to motivate the trainees.
All in all, there simply is no way to expand a company training program without a lot of documentation. Trying to wing it without adequate documentation will only result in misdirected resources, ineffective solutions and a host of other problems. Needless to say, it’ll cost you profitability. Trying to train with faulty documentation is worse because it includes the possibility that the faulty documentation will focus on the wrong lesson and actually train the workforce to make mistakes. That could have a devastating impact on your profitability.
(c) 2011 Richard H. Gregory