In most companies with distributed networks and sites, almost two-thirds of the employees handle customer servicing or are in sales roles.
In most companies with distributed networks and sites, almost two-thirds of the employees handle customer servicing or are in sales roles. Most of these have set up training centres and designed various programmes on the products being offered as well as the behavioural and managerial skills required to be successful. In addition, these companies have almost three to eight times the number of employees as part of their dealer network and training programmes are imparted to them, too, from time to time.
While the training framework has been designed based on the assumptions of availability of certain set of learners and trainers, there are several challenges faced by these organisations during the execution of the training plan. The high turnover of frontline staff and the short lead time available to find replacements result in accepting resources who do not fulfil the required criteria completely but are recruited with the hope that training would bridge the gaps. But with the delay in onboarding of the candidates and the pressure to keep the needle moving forward, managers end up prioritising business requirements over training and development. Even in those cases where the importance of training is recognised and managers are prepared to set aside the time required for training, there are other showstoppers that come in the way.
Despite all these hindrances, many organisations target to provide 8-12 days of training annually per resource and certify them as such after the candidates undergo training. However, CEOs and business heads are still not satisfied as their performances are below par. Hence, there is an urgent need to address the issues outlined with the objective to enhance the overall impact on business.
The convenience of anytime-anywhere access that digital frameworks provide should be utilised to transform training functions and maximise the outcomes. There has to be a fundamental shift towards designing and imparting training using the skills framework built around the digital platform.
The first step towards this goalpost is to map the skills required for each of the critical roles. Thereafter it is important to design appropriate assessment methods and identify tools for assessment that can measure the gap between the desired skill levels and the actual skill levels of the candidates. With the help of this information, the learning map along with the specific learning resources for each individual should be drawn up. Digital tools can then be deployed to follow up and motivate the learners to acquire or enhance their skills, connect with mentors and experts through the collaborative platform to learn from their experiences and further enable in creating an enjoyable learning experience that adapts to the device type in use, style and speed of learning of each individual. Incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to make individual learning more focused and productive, and the deep analytics available to training managers to help in the analysis of a combination of data metrics related to training effectiveness as well as timely course correction will help reposition training from being a passive, support function to becoming a strategic function contributing to business transformation.
While planning for the transformation, the design of content requires considerable attention. With the millennials forming a significant part of the workforce, their learning habits should be factored in content design and delivery. Making available byte sized content, accessing peers and experts with ease and building valuable knowledge repositories for real-time support would be crucial elements that should be addressed.
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While most organisations tend to recognise the need to bring about this transformation in their training function, there would be concerns around the commitment that is required from multiple stakeholders to commence on this journey and how to address the hesitation to embark on the journey. It is a reality that organisations are already experiencing digital intrusions and every function has to get aligned with the change sooner than later for the success of their business. In this context, for the training function to build conviction amongst its key stakeholders, it would be good to start with a pilot in select areas and demonstrate in a short period of time how the desired metrics could be achieved.
While implementing the digital platform for learning, care should be taken not to replace or disturb the existing technology applications as far as possible but to consider an integrative approach which will provide the necessary momentum to get high adoption by the key stakeholders. It is also important to re-look at the definition of metrics aligned with the business needs and measurement of the agreed metrics. Finally, sharing the analysis with internal case studies would go a long way in ensuring success with the transformation process powered by digital technology.
The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company