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Training employees is smart business. But what if you are working for, or running, a small to mid-sized company that has no established employee training program? If you are spearheading this initiative, you will probably have a limited budget until you can prove the return on investment for training.

How do you get started, and how do you do you create effective training on a limited budget? At a minimum you will need the following for a successful training program:

  • 01Executive Sponsor
  • 02Training Plan – goals, topics and schedule
  • 03Training Materials – slides, goals, tests
  • 04Conduct Training – trainers and facilities
  • 05Measure and Report Success

The first task is to get a sponsor, if you are not the sponsor and you will need to use resources from other departments this step is critical.  While the other work can be delegated this first step is a prerequisite to moving forward and it is up to you to get this approval first.

Executive Sponsorship

Even if you are the sponsor the steps in obtaining approval will help you to identify your goals and how to measure your success.  It will also help you in holding people accountable to committing to the project.    Here are some basic guidelines for making your appeal to the executive sponsor in justifying the resources needed for the training.

  • Why Train (intro or plea)
  • Cost to Company Because of a lack of Training
  • Cost to train
  • How You Will Measure
  • Estimated Time line
  • Who/What You Need
  • Projected Savings / Benefits (summary and call to action)

This should be a one-page memo or email in order to get the attention it deserves.  With executives you need to keep it short and sweet. If they like what they see they will approve, if they have questions they will ask.


Create Your Training Plan

Prioritize your training agenda based on where you see people struggling and wasting company time.  If you have a CRM like Salesforce you may be able to run reports that will show you the number of tickets by category, or time to respond, as key performance indicators of what subjects to focus on first.  If you create a training plan based on what you “think” the staff need to know, be prepared to support that gut instinct with quantifiable metrics for your executive sponsor.  By prioritizing based on the statistics you already have you will be able to measure the success of your training program and be able to justify the ongoing expense, or the expansion of your training program.  Start small, do not try to tackle every issue at the onset.  You will be refining your templates and process with the first two to three trainings. 

Define Your Project Scope:

  • 01Analysis and prioritization of issues
  • 02Identification of resources available to help
  • 03Tentative schedule with defined hours and resources needed
  • 04Executive approval of prioritization and resources
  • 05Steering committee to meet and agree on schedule and subject matter
  • 06Finalization of schedule and goals with specific and measurable metrics
  • 07Announcement of training plan to organization

Once you have identified your subject matter you will need to determine who is available to help create and deliver your training materials and work their availability into your schedule.  Limit the number of hours any one person will be spending on creating /delivering content and be sure to discuss with that person’s manager before asking for their help. 

 

 

Create a tentative launch schedule with deliverables and who is responsible and set up a steering committee to discuss, adjust and agree to the schedule.  Once you have agreement, announce the training schedule.  By announcing it you are committing to getting the training done.  It prioritizes the activity for everyone involved and it allows the people who need to attend the training time to add the training to their own calendars without disrupting other meetings and work load.


Create Your Training

In addition to staffing resources you will have to decide the best method for creating and delivering your training materials.  PowerPoint is an industry standard tool and most people know how to use it, however it is not free.  If you do not have Microsoft Office suite available to you there are free resources available, such as Prezi and Google Slides.  For a comprehensive list of 31 free tools check out CustomShow’s “31 Presentation Software & PowerPoint Alternatives for 2016”.

Remember to KISS your training, by that I mean Keep It Simple Stupid.  Don’t over complicate your task by trying tricky slide transitions and animations, unless you are already adept at these skills you will eat up time and resources.  One of your top priorities when training on a limited budget is for you to show a return on investment.  That investment includes all time spent creating the training materials.  You can and should always come back and improve your training materials over time.  But first you want some initial success with your KISS slides. 

 

 

When creating training materials add a step the standard presentation format to measure knowledge:

  • 01Tell them what they should expect to get out of the training (goals/objectives)
  • 02Tell them what they need to know (detail)
  • 03Tell them what you told them (summary)
  • 04Test them on what they learned (goals met and measured)

By creating a template for your training you will provide a guideline for your subject matter experts to use and a consistent training experience for your team.  Microsoft offers several sample training decks that you can chose from.


Conduct Training

It is important to find a dynamic presenter for your training, subject matter experts should attend the training, but they may not be the best person to present the training.  The last thing you want is for staff to dread attending the training because of a boring or monotone presenter.  This is where borrowing people from sales may be your best option, but it must be weighed carefully against any lost business opportunities.  Schedule the training around your best presenters’ availability so as not to disrupt sales activities.  Have your presenters do a few practice runs using the materials and audio video equipment before the training.  As a trainer one of your objectives is to convey the information without the audience thinking about how you are delivering the information.  The delivery should be seamless and transparent.  What should stand out is the delivery and quality of the content.

Many times the training can be delivered once live and recorded using tools like Camtasia or GoToMeeting.  Training videos can be uploaded to a company video library on YouTube and set to be viewed only by registered users (employee only).  Recording the training is the most cost-effective solution because then it can be viewed over and over again by new or existing staff needing a refresher course.  Recording also allows the presenter to see how they present and make changes such as removing filler words like “uh” “um” etc…  Your presenters benefit from the training by polishing their own presentation skills and learning more about how the company operates.  Conducting a successful training on your product can be part of an employee training plan.  If they can successfully present the training, then they are ready to present the product to clients.


Measure and Report Your Success

One of the most important steps in your process it to measure the success of your training program.  Not all results can be measured objectively, you may need to conduct an NPS survey of your clients before and after the training to measure customer satisfaction, in addition to metrics you can measure like time to fulfill an order or close a ticket.

 

 

Create a summary of your successes and lessons learned and present the results to your executive sponsor and the team.  Celebrate, calibrate and reiterate.