Learning and Development: Ensuring Continuous Improvement in the Workplace

Author ProFlow Learning Centre, 2 months ago |

Learning and development are very essential in the workplace. Learning new skills benefits not just the employee but also the entire organisation. This is why companies should invest in professional development training programs that are structured to help employees perform better in their respective roles and build a culture of continuous improvement. 

The purpose of learning and development is to increase knowledge and hone the skills of every employee. Employees should training that is aligned with their individual goals, organisational roles and performance expectations.

What is Learning?

Learning, which is also referred to as training, is the education that an employee requires to do the tasks assigned to them. It is usually acquired while on the job or offered by the company prior to the start of work. Unlike in schools, the education given inside the workplace is not academic but skill-specific.

Managers may have to guide their direct reports on how to do their job better or how to maximise their performance at work. Workplace learning is all about developing competencies. Training may also include acquiring skills that can be used in situations outside the workplace.

The goal of workplace learning is to develop an employee’s job knowledge, efficiency and skills. Managers should provide different kinds of training depending on what the company urgently needs and what resources are available. 

However, learning should never stop in the workplace. New employees require training to familiarise themselves with the company’s culture and work environment. But then, even senior employees desire to get trained as well, mostly to keep them updated with the latest changes in the industry or to prepare them for a new role in the organisation.

What is Development?

Professional development training corresponds to the learning that an organisation continuously offers to advance employees in their careers. The goal is to keep employees constantly updated while developing new skills to move forward in the field.

Organisations that are setting a standard in the workplace should invest in the professional development training of their employees. Managers must find a way to develop their performance through programs aimed at improving their skills.

Importance of Learning and Development

Managers should look at learning and development as an opportunity to increase employee aptitude and efficiency. However, some companies find training expensive. Training employees means decreased work hours, which may lead to missed goals. 

But even if learning and development may have some drawbacks, it provides a lot of long-term benefits that make its cost worthwhile. Companies that choose to invest in learning and development may expect high returns in the future.

A successful feat in the learning and development department of your company will result in creating effective upskilling, knowledge gap and professional development training programs. It’s also a good way to develop the new leaders of the company.

But for the organisation to reap the benefits of learning and development, managers should inject it to the core of the organisation. It can be done if managers start to act as thought leaders and make training more proactive instead of reactive.

Managers should also be innovators and flawless executors of training courses and modules. Innovation means introducing new learning platforms into the workplace, thus allowing for a more engaged breed of learners. However, the only way for these innovative platforms to work is through seamless execution.

Invest in professional development training

Reasons to Invest in Learning and Development

Managers should understand the importance of learning and development in their organisation. They should be proactive and take steps to integrate it in the workplace.  Even small companies need to have some sort of employee training. Managers may start by mapping out the skill gaps of each employee and provide the knowledge and experience needed to overcome them.

Managers should create basic training programs that are aligned with the learning objectives built around the employee’s goals. Listed below are the most common reasons why workplace training is essential. 

To improve performance and benchmark its status

Learning and development directly impact several aspects of an employee’s career. Employees who are constantly developing themselves tend to be better equipped with the knowledge needed to use the latest advancements in the industry.

Training allows employees to constantly hone their skills to improve their own performance and help their team. While managers are confident that they’ve hired the best people, the same people need ample training to remain the best.  

To provide overall professional development training

Professional development training promotes competency. In some industries, employees are required to hold and renew their certifications. Employees who don’t comply may create a negative impact on the organisation.

This shows how important it is for organisations to support the personal and professional development training requirements of their people. Managers should make learning a part of the workplace culture for the sake of the company and the industry.

For succession planning

Learning and development can greatly help in defining the future of the organisation. It corresponds to training employees and giving them the skills needed to help the company grow exponentially.

Succession planning means looking at the company’s current pool of talents and choosing which of them can be promoted to leadership positions. This gives employees the chance to grow within the company. 

As a result, they aren’t likely to look elsewhere as far as career growth is concerned. Integrating learning and development in succession planning means creating programmes that will train and prepare qualified employees to their new roles.

To introduce or test new systems and processes

A new system or process introduced in the workplace creates an impact on employees. These new systems and processes may alter how one’s job should be performed, as well as change the existing structure of the organisation. Sometimes, they even eliminate responsibilities or create new tasks. 

Therefore, it is critical to have a learning and development process in place before, during and after implementing any new system. Training employees properly will also increase the overall effectiveness of the new system.

Benefits of Learning and Development

Talent improvement is among the key aspects of professional development training. Managers must step in and train their direct reports if they want to build a high-performing team. It is erroneous to assume that hiring experienced people is the alternative to training employees.

Some managers find it better to work with people whom they have personally trained than those who were trained by somebody else. While learning and development do seem expensive, the benefits listed below are what organisations will most probably enjoy.

Better workplace engagement

Today’s employees put high regard to learning and development. The report released by Gallup in 2016 shows that 59% of the workers surveyed say they check out the possible opportunities for growth when choosing an employer. 

Millennials make up for half of today’s workforce and their number increases by the decade. For companies to remain competitive, they have to recruit top talent. It’s going to be hard for them to hire the best ones if they can’t provide the things that are important to this new generation of workers. Incidentally, learning and development are among them. 

Higher Employee Retention

Employee turnover is a loss for companies. After all, nobody would like to lose productive employees. Survey shows that companies that invest in the training and development of their employees have a higher retention rate.

The employees that company train is less likely to leave than those that aren’t trained at all. Investing in learning and development doesn’t only improve employee retention but also increases employee trust and confidence.   

Improved productivity

Employees are the best assets of a company, especially so if they’re high performing teams. Learning and development focus on upskilling employees and filling their knowledge gaps.  Well-trained teams have 10% better productivity than untrained ones. 

Managers should equip employees with the ability to perform their jobs better and do their best to make each employee a top performer. The best way to achieve that is to empower them with proper training.

Lower business risks

Learning and development also reduce the risks associated with running a company. A good example of this is workplace safety training. In line with that, managers should make sure that all employees are working in a good environment. They have to teach employees what the ideal workplace behaviours are so that all team members can support each other.

Managers must become proactive in employee training to create a positive working environment. Aside from safety training, providing ethics training may help employees know the correct way to work with clients and with each other to possibly minimize lawsuits.

Improved product and services

Companies with highly trained employees are likely to have happy customers because they can provide for their needs more efficiently. Customers count on companies to address their concerns immediately and provide effective solutions to their problems.

Training empowers employees to handle customers’ concerns effectively and make sure that they’re satisfied with the solutions offered. Managers should train employees on how to converse with customers and use the company’s technology and resources in addressing their issues. 

How to Train and Develop Employees

Companies should invest in employee learning and development for obvious reasons. More often than not, this job lies squarely on the shoulders of managers. Unfortunately, some managers don’t realise how important employee training can be.

When employees engage in learning and development programs, they become better decision-makers. Their overall performance is likely to improve a notch higher, which is good for the organisation.

Training employees means less recruitment and higher retention levels. Managers directly benefit from this because it becomes easier for them to delegate smaller tasks. With fewer tasks on their list, managers can focus more on being a good leader.  Below are some tips on how to effectively train and develop employees.

Create tools and resources

To develop employees, managers must empower them. Start by giving them the tools and resources necessary to do better at their job, such as providing them with professional training. All tools, resources and training modules should be made available to the employee on their first day in office.

Create a knowledge base of critical information about the job as well as some best practices for new hires. Make sure that every employee gets the opportunity to ask questions before, during and after the training.

Turn team meetings and 1:1s into learning opportunities

Learning and development shouldn’t only happen when there’s a need for it. Managers should take every opportunity to train and develop their direct reports and not rely on any other department to do it.

Managers should see their interactions with the team as a chance to train employees. They should try to inject some new learnings into weekly meetings like they do with performance reviews and project check-ins. Mindset, behavioural and professional development training are just some that can be integrated into regular meetings.

Consider giving stretch assignments

Instead of just delegating a task, managers should consider giving stretch assignments, which can greatly help in learning and development. Managers should assign tasks that are aligned with the employee’s career professional development training goals, needs and aspirations.

Don’t just find the right person for the assignment. Instead, find the right assignment for every member of the team. By doing so, managers develop every team member, boosting the team’s overall performance. 

Collaborate with other teams or departments

To build a high-performance team, managers should look into departmental training across different departments. This can help bridge gaps in the employee’s skills, knowledge and behaviour. It allows employees to adapt to the workplace culture, learn about the business and become more productive members of the organisation. 

Managers should create structures that will make it easier for their direct reports to collaborate with the other departments in the organisation. That way, it’s easier for employees to connect with each other, thus creating better output.

Focus on soft skills

Soft skills are essential in the workplace. These skills make it easier for employees to do their job. It relates to one’s interpersonal skills, listening skills and communication skills. It also includes empathy, time management, adaptability, creative thinking and positivity, among others.  

Encouraging these skills allows employees and companies to run smoothly as these skills touch on the core relationship of individuals. It also lets employees easily adapt to the existing culture of the organisation.

Effective Training Techniques in the Workplace

There are many methods and techniques to train employees and make them better at their tasks. It is the manager’s job to find which method to use to arrive at the expected results. Keep in mind that employees may have different ways of learning and retaining information. Always consider changing your training technique to match the needs of the employee.

 Managers are encouraged to understand the different training techniques used today and use each of them as necessary. It’s also recommended to combine two or more methods for a more effective learning approach.

Classroom-like training

This traditional type of training still works to this day. This technique has an instructor and involves the use of whiteboards or overhead projectors. The instructor may simply discuss the topic or use more creative tools like videos and slides.

This training technique is most effective when there’s a lot to discuss to a large group of employees. It’s also cost-effective because everyone gets all the information at the same time.

However, classroom training is less interactive, and its success lies greatly on the instructor’s effectiveness. It may also be fairly difficult to set a schedule for this type of training, especially if the attendees will come from different locations.

Interactive training

The interactive training method is the upgrade of traditional classroom training. Here, the training methods used may come in the form of role-playing, simulations, quizzes, scenarios and even games. The employee can also learn at his or her own pace and time.

Many companies use this type of training because it gets employees more interested and engaged in the subject manner. There’s also a higher level of retention about the concepts that were taught.

However, one downside of this method is that it can consume a lot of time, especially when each learner has to consult with a subject matter expert for clarifications. This method is also not recommended for any kind of training that requires regular feedback.

Hands-on training

Also referred to as experimental or on-the-job training, this technique involves the active participation of the employee in actual activities related to the job. This type of training is best used for creating a new breed of managers or leaders in the organisation.

This technique is also recommended when introducing a new procedure or system in the company. It works because employees are immediately introduced to the task they’ll be doing, thus allowing them to learn the skills necessary to do a task more efficiently.

However, hands-on training may not work for large groups, especially if the training involves the use of machines or complicated pieces of equipment. It also requires a dedicated coach or trainer who would do nothing but supervise the training. Many companies also see this type of training to be more expensive compared to other methods.

Online training

Many companies today have offices in different locations while some employees are working remotely. The use of online training makes it easier for everyone to obtain new knowledge and develop their skills. Some of the most common examples of online training are videoconferencing and web meetings.

Online training is not that expensive yet it’s effective. It’s best used for self-directed and refresher training. It can also be used to update employees about new procedures, policies or regulations in the company.

The downside of online learning is the need for top-of-the-line hardware or devices. This type of training is also rather impersonal because of its remote nature. This technique is not recommended for people who get intimidated by technology.

Common Employee Learning Styles

Managers looking to build a high-performance team should know the crucial roles that learning and development play. Giving employees the professional training that they need will most likely lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction and employee engagement.

 However, the challenge is to understand how each person learns. Every person tends to process information in a different way. It means that each person in the team may have their own ways of retaining information.

 Managers should take into consideration the learning styles of each team member to make the training more effective. The training should be tailored to match the learning style of the majority, while still taking into consideration the others who may be different. Below are the most common learning styles observed in the workplace.

Visual learning

Also referred to as spatial learning, visual learners tend to absorb information better with the use of images, pictures and graphics. If a majority of the members of the team are visual learners, then the trainer must use illustrations, diagrams, or animations during the training session.

Visual learners like live demonstrations because they thrive in face-to-face instruction. Since they are very good at details, be sure to give them well-prepared graphic presentations or instructional videos. They also find handouts useful.

However, visual learners tend to get easily distracted by movement, clutter or people. They also struggle with listening, especially when done over a long period of time. When training these types of employees, be sure to highlight every important point with graphics because they don’t necessarily retain everything that they hear. 

Auditory learning

If visual learners work with pictures, auditory learners work with sounds. This type of learners absorbs information that is shared out loud. As such, they are best taught through lectures, speeches and one-on-one lessons.

Auditory learners tend to talk to themselves when solving a problem. They also repeat information and speak it aloud to aid in retention. These learners benefit from group discussions or by simply talking with others.

When training this type of employees, be sure to choose a nice and quiet environment because they can be sensitive to noise. They also don’t do well using handouts because they only get confused or distracted with them. It’s better to keep on repeating all the important points for them to fully understand.

Kinesthetic learning 

Kinesthetic learners use all of their senses to learn. As such, they learn best through experience. Managers are better off giving hands-on training to these employees, which is the method that works best for them. If hands-on training is not possible, then role-playing scenarios may help a lot.

Kinesthetic learners may require hours of practice to get things right. Even so, they are the type of people who could figure things on their own and learn from their mistakes. They work best in an in-person learning environment.

Kinesthetic learners don’t pay as much attention to written or verbal instructions. They don’t use notes to study and may feel restless inside the training room. When these learners are in a lab, it’s important to keep their environment peaceful so they can retain information better. 

Roles of Managers in Professional Development Training

The role of a manager normally extends to training. Ideally, managers should be training experts as well. Managers must have at least the basic training skills because after all, they are the ones who know the job, the requirements of the organisation and the goals of each employee. 

Managers are responsible for improving productivity in the workplace. One of their roles is to create training solutions and initiatives for employees. Managers have to educate their direct reports to improve their performance. Here are the more detailed roles of managers when it comes to professional development training. 

Motivate employees to join training programs

Even if not all managers are training experts, it is their duty to be aware of whatever professional development training programs are offered by the company. They should encourage everyone’s participation and explain to each employee why such training will benefit them in the long run.

It is the manager’s job to make sure that every employee is happy with his or her work. When work seems monotonous, training can help. The new skills that employees learned can be applied in the workplace. It may also open up opportunities for new roles and responsibilities.

Assess what skills the team lacks

Managers should always provide guidance to their direct reports. This is the reason why they do performance reviews. Part of the performance review is checking what skills the entire team needs to perform better.

Regular monitoring means better performance assessment, which in turn, leads to a more accurate skills assessment. Once a manager knows what skills are lacking, then it’s easier to suggest new courses or study materials to employees.

Design relevant training programs 

 If a skill is lacking and there’s a need to develop employees, then managers should create training programs to address that need. Many companies are capable of developing an in-house training program while others may need to outsource it.

 Either way, managers should submit recommendations depending on their assessments. Doing so makes it easier to target the skills needed to develop employees and make them more productive members of the team.

Find every opportunity to train employees

 Employee learning and development don’t always have to be formal. There are many other ways to train employees, such as sending them to seminars and conferences. Some companies also sponsor team building activities and webinar sessions.

 There are many other alternative ways to train employees and it is the manager’s job to find the one that would create the best possible results. Managers should also create ample opportunities for employees to develop themselves.

Prioritise your personal growth and sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter
logo-inverse

The Right Way to Train Employees

 Companies thrive if all its employees are well-trained. If managers are sure that all their direct reports have proper training and all the knowledge and skills needed to succeed, then team success is very likely to happen.

Well-trained employees are highly competent. They deliver quality work at the fastest possible time frame. They are also likely to commit fewer mistakes, thus maximising revenue. Here are some tips on how managers can create a successful training program for their teams.

Set training goals

Determine the things that you want employees to learn. Start with simple goals and find the right people to include in the training sessions. Be sure to constantly monitor the employee’s progress to the goals so it’s easier to adjust the training session as necessary.

The idea is to find the gaps in the employee’s knowledge or skills and fill them. Make sure to create a program that’s useful to employees. The training should address the things that they want to learn and the tasks that they are struggling with.

Combine online and in-person training

There are many benefits to online and in-person training, and it is best that managers use both when training employees. With in-person training, employees can learn straight from the experts and directly ask them their questions. On the other hand, employees can use online training to review the concepts learned during face-to-face training sessions.

Using a blend of different training techniques addresses the needs of employees with varied learning styles. Furthermore, it allows employees to gain a better understanding of the subject and apply it to their daily tasks.

Let employees practise what they learned

To ensure that employees learn from each training session, be sure to provide them with opportunities for hands-on training. Let them practice their newly learned skills in a fail-safe environment.

Allow employees to apply and experiment with what they learned until they become confident with using the knowledge or skill in their daily tasks. Managers should support employees and correct their mistakes as they go along.

Seek the help of other employees

Once done with the training session, pair new employees with highly skilled ones who can serve as their trainers. This way, managers don’t have to closely supervise the employee because somebody else will do that job. 

This also provides other employees who are proficient in the task an opportunity to share their skills and expertise with others, particularly the new hires. Be sure to encourage them to share not just the proper procedures in doing the job but also some of their best practices.

Communicate outcome and provide actionable feedback

Once the training session is over, go back to the original plan and evaluate if the employee was able to meet the goals of the training sessions. Set up a meeting with them and let them ask questions about their training. Managers may also opt to create a survey at the end of each training session to determine how effective it has been.

Managers should review the assessment scores of each trainee and provide ample feedback. It’s best if managers provide feedback in their next 1:1 session to make it impactful and personalised. At this point, managers should already know what the next steps will be, like providing the employee with continuous training or cross-training with other departments.

Tools and Resources Needed for Employee Training

Companies have to invest in the right employee training tools and resources to become competitive. The right resources and tools help in making it easier for managers to train their direct reports, allowing them to develop the skills needed to succeed. 

These tools may also determine the outcome of the training. Companies have to be effective and creative when training employees. Below are some tools that can help in an organisation’s learning and development programs.

Learning Management Systems

Learning Management Systems or LMS streamlines all the training and learning functions of an organisation. It’s a virtual space, which means it’s on the cloud. Employees may access the modules to learn about a new concept or review all the training materials their managers gave them. Good examples of LMS are:

ProProfs Training Maker – allows users to create a course online, which can be used anytime and anywhere training. It comes with design options, reports and analytics.

Skyprep – a practical, versatile and intuitive LMS that virtually works in any field. It comes with an auto-grading system for real-time assessment of the training.

Video Conferencing Tools   

Some employees don’t do well in learning modules on their own. Here’s where video training becomes beneficial. Also, some companies have different locations and employees working remotely. With the use of video conferencing tools, there’s no need to rent a venue and fly everyone to a specific place for training purposes. They can simply use:

Zoom – a video and web conferencing software that allows one to host meetings and webinars. Attendees can access the online conference rooms through their computers or mobile phones. It supports chat messaging and file sharing as well.

GoToMeeting – offers quick one-click meetings, turnkey room equipment and webinars for businesses. It comes with a high level of security, automated provisioning and diagnostic reports. 

Mobile Training Tools  

Training has gone mobile and companies that don’t want to be left behind should invest in such tools. Mobile training tools offer bite-sized yet highly informational learning experiences to employees. Mobile training resources prove to be useful for employees who are always on the go. Here are good examples:

Kitaboo – designed for enterprise learning and development. The app allows easy creation, publishing and delivery of content in different formats. It works on mobile phones, tablets and even laptops.

Lectora – offers easy creation of mobile-friendly courses. It features seamless play, auto-play, anchor positioning and BranchTrack integration. 

Microlearning Platforms

Microlearning tools offer instant professional development training support. These are ideal for trainers who need to create modules quickly. Information is easy-to-use and consume, making it ideal for those quick and specific needs of learners. Some of the most popular microlearning platforms are:

TalentCards – a mobile app that supports microlearning for maximum memory retention. It provides cognitive learning, gamification and micro-assessments.

Kahoot – offers engaging learning through self-study modules and games. This software has found its way in school, work and home as it comes with several learning apps.

Professional learning and development

Conclusion

Creating an effective learning and development program in an organisation is crucial to its success. When creating a training program for employees, managers should take into consideration all the concepts discussed above and summarise them one framework. Trainers call this framework the ADDIE model.

ADDIE stands for analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. Analysis determines what training is needed, who to be trained and how it can create an impact. Design covers all the learning objectives, outline and course content, as well as the method used to deliver them to the learners. 

Managers should involve themselves in the learning and development as well as in the implementation and evaluation of the training courses to ensure that they’re up-to-date, impactful and effective. They should make sure that the professional development training offered by the company constantly grows and evolves to meet the challenges and demands of the industry.