In my experience, I have seen many organizations wasting their money on conference registration fees and traveling expenses for training their employees. Don’t get me wrong. I highly value training, and I, myself, invest lot of my employee’s time and my team’s budget in training them with new skillsets. But sometimes, conference registration fees can be very expensive, traveling out of town can be extremely costly, and customer service can suffer from several people being out of office at the same time. Skills development doesn’t have to cost you that much. To get the most out of every dollar spent on the training, you should try to capitalize on the in-house talent that you already have within your organization. Thus, in this blog post I will provide you with some tricks and tips through which you can take the maximum advantage of your in-house talent pool for training other employees.
Build a database: If your organization doesn’t already have the database of available for the in-house talent, then you might want to create one. This database will serve as the foundation for any in-house training in the future. Now, you must be thinking that you need to make few phone calls to few IT experts to create this database, right? Wrong. This database doesn’t need to be a tech savvy one. You can just create this list in Excel or Google Docs. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Just tell your employees to note down their existing trainings on a shared spreadsheet somewhere. Ask your employees to give a five line summary of the training that they might have taken in the past, or have been scheduled to take it in the future. Let them be involved in creating this database, so that they are more likely to take the advantage of this database, when they need any kind of a training for themselves.
Advertise internally: Once you have the training database built, you can then advertise this database internally within your organization. Maybe send out a mass e-mail to every person in the organization, encouraging them to look for any new training under this database. Also, train all the managers on how to use the information from this database, and encourage them to publicize the benefits of this database during their individual team meetings. Encourage your managers to look for the new training needs under this database, before they send out their employees for any third-party training. And let there be a central place on the web (Google Docs or SharePoint), where employees can share their opinions about this new program for any improvements.
Let the game begin: Once you have the database ready, you can now let the game begin. For example: Let’s say, Bob took the training on VMware in the past, and now Steve needs the same training for some reason, Steve’s manager can connect Steve with Bob to take this training internally. Obviously, this will require some logistics planning. You might need to make sure that Bob is free to provide the VMware training to Steve, when Steve needs that training. Obviously, this might be a chaotic environment at first. But you can avoid this situation by going through the most popular training taken by people, and then prioritize them, and schedule regular training classes for those popular classes. You don’t need to have a tech savvy system for this. You can just put the schedule of these trainings on a bulletin board, and whoever is interested in that training can take that training during the allocated time. In order to be most effective, don’t choose the same instructor to deliver the same class again. Provide the chance to other employees, who have learned the material in-house, and let them give the next training. In this way, you can not only create a butterfly effect in your organization, but you can also point out the advantage of these training to other employees.
Use of technology: Obviously, not all the trainings will be available all the time. There will be situations where the instructor might be busy or the person who wants to take the training might be occupied. After all, all of these are your employees, and they have day-to-day tasks as well. In order to resolve this issue, you can use the help of technology. If you are not a tech savvy company, don’t worry about it. You can use many open source software available out there to develop videos and presentations for the materials that you want to share. Don’t go overboard with the technology here. Content is what matters here. Though your employees can make the presentation lively with few graphics and videos, don’t go overboard. Let them share their content, and provide a platform to share that content. You can use SharePoint, Google Docs, or a shared network drive to share this content cheaply and effectively. And if possible, provide the link to the training material in the training database itself, so that any user can find out the course that he/she wants to take and then directly click on the link to access the training material.
I hope, my approach here will help you in building your own, cheap and effective, employee’s training program. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my point of view.
Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi