Training and Development Programs
For small enterprises, effective training and development is an important strategy that allows you to leverage the small number of employees in your company. Training and developing your employees entails ensuring that your new or current employees have the skills needed to perform current and future jobs. Maintaining few but well trained and developed employees will allow you to be flexible and agile, and to operate at lower cost while optimizing performance.
Since you have fewer employees, any lack of skills, incompetence or inadequacy on their part will be readily felt. So your employees must be multi-skilled, and committed, willing, competent and able to step up when necessary. This implies that your training programs must be directed towards the acquisition of broad skills such as problem-solving skills, communication skills, and team-building skills, that enhance employee cooperation and commitment. This is on top of the technical skills that your current employees are expected to have.
Designing a training program basically consists of four steps. You first assess or determine training needs. This will require you to perform a task analysis. This is a detailed study of a particular job to determine what specific skills are required to perform it. You also do a performance analysis which allows you to confirm whether there is a significant deficiency in how current employees perform their jobs and the assigned tasks. A useful tool for this is a simple form where you list the required tasks, the performance standards, the skills and aptitudes required for the job. The task and performance analyses will enable you to determine the gaps or deficiencies which can be addressed by training or some other means.
Second, you need to set training objectives. Here you specify the performance you expect to achieve through training intervention. You state the performance objectives in observable and measurable terms. This will be your benchmark in assessing whether or not training has been effective or not.
Third, you choose the actual techniques for training delivery. Some of these include on the job training, job rotation, job enrichment, coaching and mentoring, distance learning, video-conferencing, and formal education, all of which are directed towards maximize learning and acquisition of requisite skills of your employees.
Finally, you must evaluate your training programs. You need to document and compare your trainees’ pre-training and post-training performances. In gauging the effectiveness of a training program, you need to measure how your trainees are learning, changing their behavior and showing results from the acquired training. This will enable you to determine if your training objectives have been achieved and whether training is the appropriate solution to the identified performance gaps. This assessment will also allow you to measure the effectiveness of your training programs. An indication of the effectiveness of your training programs are improvements in the way your current employees are performing on the job, such as increased productivity.
For the small company, developing managerial talent is crucial. Often management is retained by the owner who keeps a tight rein on the company’s operations. This can be counterproductive particularly when the management style of the owner is highly centralized and when he refuses to delegate some of his managerial responsibilities to key management employees.
The process for developing key managerial talent in a small firm is similar to that of training process discussed above. For the first step however, you conduct instead a simple management audit. This will allow you to identify the managers in the company, their areas of control and whether they have the required managerial talents and skills. As with the training assessment process, this audit will help you analyze and determine development needs. If there are identified managerial inadequacies, you assess whether the gaps can be addressed by training or some other intervention. If not, you determine if the managers need to be replaced, in which case, you determine how you can recruit new managers for the firm.