A strong workforce is built on continuous employee development that enhances knowledge, skills, engagement, and ultimately, retention. At MRA, we work with members every day to create training and development plans that strengthen workforces and produce results. Creating a training and development plan, with an eye both to organizational and individual needs, is an important strategic activity.
Where to start?
A strong organizational development plan begins with a clear understanding of where you are today, and where you need to be in 3 to 5 years. Which skill sets are required now and which will be required in the near future? How do those differ by level and area? Are there skills you need to hire? Can you internally cultivate others?
If you haven't undertaken a formal competency planning process, doing so can help you answer these questions and gain consensus on strategies. Regardless of how you get there, it is essential to understand the skills your company needs to achieve its objectives, both today and in the near future.
What to budget?
In creating training and development plans, the next question is often, "What is the right amount to budget?" There is no one number that makes sense for every organization. That number depends on variables salient to your company such as impact you may be feeling from demographic shifts and retirements, the competitive climate in which you operate, new industry trends, etc.
As a benchmark number, however, Training magazine's recent United States Training Industry Report stated that in 2008, $1,129 was spent per learner on training. Internal and external training costs are rolled into that number.
Some organizations construct their budget in levels, outlining the training and development needs of all employees, front-line employees, managers, and leaders. Training directed at all employees could include broad organizational initiatives such as training on diversity or sexual harassment issues.
On an individual level, it is important to include specific needs of high potentials or successors. Successors for all key corporate areas should be identified and multi-year plans created to help them grow the skills needed in their current and potential roles. In addition to classes, coaching and networking can be valuable developmental tools.
We often find that HR professionals attend to everyone else's development plans except their own. Professional development is important for all employees, but especially those who help shape the company. Be sure to include yourself in opportunities to enhance your knowledge and your impact.
What else to consider?
The real power of training and development emerge when the concepts and skills presented are reinforced at every turn within an organization. A strong Performance Management system ensures all elements work together. This means aligning your training development opportunities, recognition programs, performance appraisals, even communications - both from a corporate and an individual perspective - so they reinforce and reward the competencies critical to your organization's success.
Finally, it's often good to check back in with your employee survey data. The information found within your report can be very helpful in illuminating areas on which to focus. For example, if your company has a core competency built around entrepreneurship, but your employee satisfaction survey reveals that front line workers don't feel supervisors support their ideas, this could highlight opportunities to develop listening skills among managers, or perhaps communication/presentation skills among front line workers.
Creating a sound plan can be complex. If you have any questions about the right training and development program for your company, please contact MRA at 800.488.4845.