Developing an effective training strategy

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It’s tempting to put off staff training indefinitely, waiting until there is more time or more money. But for you to succeed, your employees’ skill sets must be complete and up-to-date. Employee development is one of the most important investments you can make in your business.

When you do take on a training effort, you’ll want to be sure you’re spending your money wisely. It’s therefore best to create an overall training strategy to steer your plans for staff development. Here are some guidelines to help make your training efforts successful:

Analyse your needs

Take the time to carefully analyse your needs when designing your training plan. This will help you choose the right type of training for your requirements.

Identify skills gaps

You can do this by looking at a written job description (make sure you have one!) and comparing the skills the position requires with your employees’ current abilities. Understanding where there may be gaps will help you identify the types of training you need.


Assign the training you’d like to provide into categories. Is it mandatory, or nice to have? If it’s absolutely required, a training effort becomes imperative. If it reflects an ideal situation that isn’t immediately feasible, you’ll know to plan for it in the longer term.

Plan and deliver the training

Once you have assessed and prioritised the need for training, the next step is to secure what type of training you will use and how you will offer it. There are several factors to consider.

Types of training available

Internal resources – ask yourself what resources you have in-house. Seasoned employees may be perfect to take on coaching or mentoring roles. Inexpensive to provide, these are among the most effective types of training

External resources – formal seminars, conferences, private trainers and videos are all good methods for learning. These tools are more expensive, but are professionally developed and often yield good results

Delivery options

One-on-one vs. group sessions, e-learning vs. in-person instruction, on-site or off-site? These questions will be answered by a blend of factors – what’s available, what best suits your needs, and what you can afford.

Your budget 

It’s important to balance your need to save with the long-term benefit of developing staff. Try to determine the best type of training available for the amount you have to spend.

Secure management and staff commitment

Before you can execute a training program, you need to have agreement from the senior person in your company that training is a priority. This person will need to support the plan fully and agree to milestones, costs, dates and deliverables.

Employee commitment is also required. Talk to your staff about the goals for the training and why it’s important to the business that they undertake the learning effort. Most often, employees will respond favourably to your investment in their development. Today’s employees look beyond their pay cheques; they value and embrace opportunities to learn new skills.

Analyse training efforts and their impact

Training can be costly, so you will want to assess its impact. However, sometimes its effect cannot be translated simply into bottom line dollars and cents.

Ideally, you might track variables before and after training to verify improvements after development efforts. If the training was on customer service, the end result may be fewer customer complaints and/or an increase in sales. Training on a new computer system may net fewer errors or quicker processing. You may need to review why you sought training to begin with and whether your concerns have been remedied.

Think long term

Changes may not occur overnight, so it’s important to be patient. Training is a long-term investment and often the benefits are not immediately obvious. However, your efforts in developing your people will help you in many ways. Staff will be more knowledgeable, they’ll be more likely to stick around, and your commitment to training will help you earn a reputation as an employer of choice.