Internal Training - 5 Ideas To Make It Work By Kenneth O'Brien
Commentary: Training need not be tired to expensive external consultants. If the goal is to encourage learning there are other methods that fit that use the internal resources of the company. Cheaper, too.
In a previous article I looked at reasons why training is important and how organisations could look at providing training for employees. In this article I’ll consider some practical ways of going about providing internal training. It must be said that internal training is never expected to replace quality external training but what it can offer is a degree of personalisation and employee involvement that even the best training courses may not achieve. By encouraging employees to generate knowledge and add to their own knowledge, the business or organisation can benefit markedly.
Peer training is one person delivering a short training session on some part of the technology the company uses. As it is informal, "students" are likely to be more relaxed and may learn more. A further benefit is that it does not require large amounts of downtime, a feature that can suit businesses and employees alike. Most commonly it's just an impromptu training session around a computer. It can also be set up as scheduled training over an agreed period.
Like peer training these are informal sessions. The main difference is that they usually involve much larger groups and it is voluntary. This can be anything from 5 minutes to an hour. The advantage here is that those presenting will already have some special knowledge of the business and it can help spread the knowledge throughout the organisation. Apart from disseminating information it's also a way to help people improve their presentation skills. They can be done with Powerpoint or just a flipchart and a pen. Some larger organisations also use rotas, but this is not always the best way to do it, as its voluntary nature is what gives it its appeal.
These have been around for a very long time and work best with new employees. The advantage of this method is that it can help new employees come up to speed more quickly on the business. If done properly it can also give the "buddy" a sense of importance. But like all training there needs to be a structure to it, otherwise neither will benefit.
A time honoured tradition that many people ignore and which can end up never being written. Instructions on how something works is essential as it negate the excuse that Jane is not here so we don't know how to do it. It doesn't have to be long and complex. It can be a simple set of instructions like "How to Make a Good Cup of Coffee". If it's presented as the long-awaited "How-To" manual on the company it will never be written.
The advantage of wikis is that you can get them to do what you want. They also deal with the sharing of information. This can be a positive as it can, in theory, help foster a sense of collaboration. Their structure can also make the task of writing them easier as entries can be very short.
There is no denying that people do need training and using the knowledge inside the business can sometimes be of far greater benefit than sending people away for a day. The simple reason is that other employees are more likely to learn information that makes their job easier, from someone who already has an idea what their job in the organisation is about. By putting less emphasis on training and training plans and concentrating more on the exchange of knowledge, employees and employers can begin to see the mutual benefit of training and knowledge exchange.
Ken O’Brien is the owner of Spear IT (http://www.spearitlouth.ie), a computer services company based in Drogheda, Ireland, which offers a range of managed services including online backup. Spear IT also provide training and training courses to small businesses. He can also be found reflecting on IT and other issues on his blog(http://www.spearitlouth.ie/spearitblog).