7 Tips for Coaching Employees to Improve Performance

How do you align coaching with individual employees’ needs? Employee coaching is central to improving the performance of employees, as well as helping with employee onboarding and retention. Read this blog post for seven tips to effectively coach employees to improve performance.


Managers and leaders are critical to the success of a business, and so are effective coaching skills. Consistent coaching helps with employee onboarding and retention, performance improvement, skill improvement, and knowledge transfer. On top of these benefits, coaching others is an effective method for reinforcing and transferring learning.

While there are many important leadership skills and competencies, coaching is central to improving the performance of entire teams.

A coaching leadership style is proving to be much more effective with today’s employees than the more authoritarian styles that many business leaders operate under. Leaders who coach employees instead of commanding them are able to build a much more talented and agile workforce, which leads to a healthy and growing business.

Think back to your peewee soccer days (or any team sport, really). I bet you can think of three kinds of teams:

  1. The directionless group of kids running around aimlessly, taking frequent breaks for cookies and juice.
  2. The organized group who focused, but still had fun.
  3. The hyper-focused, aggressive group.

And how do you think these teams got the way they did? The coach, of course! The first group had a coddling coach, the second had a balanced coach, and the third had an intense coach living out his failed soccer dreams vicariously through a group of 6-year-olds.

Which seems like the healthiest group? Hopefully, you said the second one. But how do you coach in such a way that produces a healthy team?

Good coaching can be easy to spot, but hard to emulate.

First, you need to meet your team members where they’re at. Coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Some people will need a lot more handholding than others, depending on where they’re at in their job role and overall career.

So before we get to our seven coaching tips, here’s a quick look at how you can align coaching conversations with individual employees’ needs.

How to Coach Employees at Different Levels

The best coaches don’t use the same coaching style for each individual team member. They’re flexible enough to adapt to the situation at hand.

There are five levels of employee performance, and you’ll have to adapt your style for each one to coach them effectively:

  • Novices
  • Doers
  • Performers
  • Masters
  • Experts

Level 1: Novice

Novices are in the “telling” stage of learning. They need to receive a lot of instruction and constructive correction. If you’re confident in the people you’ve hired, then they probably won’t need to stay in this stage very long. Also, watch out for your own micromanaging tendencies – you don’t want to hold an employee back from moving to the next level!

Level 2: Doer

Once Novices begin to understand the task and start to perform, they transition to the Doer stage. They haven’t yet mastered the job, so there’s still a heavy amount of “tell” coaching going on. But they’re doing some productive work and contributing to the team. So, there are now opportunities to encourage new behaviors, and praise Doers for good results.

Level 3: Performer

As Doers start accomplishing a task to standards, they become Performers. Now they’re doing real work and carrying their full share of the load. And they’re doing the task the way it should be done. With Performers, there’s much less “tell” coaching, if any at all. But there’s still feedback, mostly focused on recognizing good results and improving the results that don’t meet expectations.

Level 4: Master

Some Performers may continue to grow on the job and reach the Master stage. At this point, they can not only accomplish tasks to standards, they can do so efficiently and effectively. Plus, they have a deep enough understanding of what should be done that they can teach and coach others on the task. And they know enough to actually help improve standard processes.

Level 5: Expert

Experts are valuable members of the team and may become front-line team leads. Experts don’t need a lot of direction – they’re highly self-sufficient. If anything, they can provide direction to others. Experts don’t necessarily require a lot of recognition and praise to stay motivated, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want any.

7 Coaching Tips for Managers and Leaders

So, now that we’ve gone over the different performance levels your employees can be at, let’s get to what you came for – the tips!

These coaching tips will work with any of those five levels and can help you have more mutually beneficial coaching conversations that will improve overall team performance!

1. Ask guiding questions

Open-ended, guiding questions lead to more detailed and thoughtful answers, which lead to more productive coaching conversations. As a manager or leader, it is critical that you develop strong relationships with your employees. This will help you determine if your employees are curious, have the capacity to perform and improve, and what kind of attitude they have towards their work.

This is where communication skills and emotional intelligence really come into play. Managers must guide conversations both by asking questions and listening, not by giving directives. Employees learn and grow the most when they uncover the answers themselves.

2. Recognize what’s going well

Coaching well requires a balance of criticism and praise. If your coaching conversations are completely focused on what’s not working and what the employee has to do to change, that’s not motivating, it’s demoralizing.

Your recognition of the things your employee is doing well can be a springboard into how they can build from that to improve. We’re not talking about the compliment sandwich here, though, because that coaching technique often devolves into shallow praise that comes off as insincere.

Giving compliments that you don’t actually mean can have a worse effect than not giving any at all, so take the time to think about specific things that are going well, and let your employees know that you see and appreciate them!

Another aspect of this is how the employee likes to be recognized. This is a good question to ask them from the start of your relationship – does frequent recognition help them stay motivated, or is every once in awhile sufficient? Do they prefer recognition to be given publicly or privately? The last thing you want to do is embarrass someone when you’re trying to be a good coach!

3. Listen and empower

Coaching requires both encouragement and empowerment. As a manager and a leader, your job is to build one-on-one relationships with employees that result in improved performance.

Your employees are likely to have a lot of input, questions, and feedback. It’s important for them to know you care enough to listen to what they have to say, so encourage them to share their opinions.

Some employees will have no problem speaking their mind, while others will need a LOT of encouragement before they share an opinion with you openly. Once they do open up, be sure to respect those opinions by discussing them, rather than dismissing them.

4. Understand their perspective

When you’re coaching employees to improve performance and engagement, approaching things from their perspective, rather than your own, will help enormously with seeing the changes and results you want.

Everyone has different motivations, preferences, and personalities, so if you ask questions to help you understand where their “why” comes from and what their preferred “how” looks like, then you can tailor your coaching conversations to align the way they work best with the improvements you’re both aiming for.

For example, maybe you recently moved from an office plan that had lots of individual offices to a much more open-plan, and one of the reps on your sales team has shown a drastic decrease in successful calls. If you start asking questions and find out that this is someone who is excellent in one-on-one conversations, but rarely speaks up in a group setting, then you can see how they’d feel like everyone is listening in on their call, making them less confident than when they had their own space.

With that perspective in mind, you can work with them more effectively on how to get their numbers back up.

5. Talk about next steps

Coaching conversations are meant to yield changes and results, so be sure to clearly define and outline what needs to happen next. This will ensure you and your employees are on the same page with expectations, and provide them with a clear understanding of the practical steps they can take to make changes and improve.

Also, these next steps should be mutually agreed upon – talk about what is reasonable to expect given their workload and the complexity of the changes being made.

6. Coach in the moment

If an employee comes to you with a question about a process or protocol, use this opportunity to teach them something new. If you’re not able to stop what you’re doing right away, schedule time with them as soon as possible to go over it.

Better yet, keep a weekly one-on-one meeting scheduled with each employee so you can go over questions and issues regularly, while maintaining productivity. Coaching employees with a goal of improving performance means making them a priority each week!

7. Commit to continuous learning

Make a commitment to improving your own skills and competencies. If you’re not continuously learning, why should your employees? Lead by example and your team will follow.

Show that you are interested in their success (why wouldn’t you be?). Ask questions about where they see their career going, or how they see their role evolving in the company. Even if they don’t have a plan laid out yet, these questions will make them think about their career and what they want to accomplish within the organization.

Show your employees that you don’t just want them to do better so you look better, but that you’re actively interested in their career, accomplishments, and professional success.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a critical aspect of coaching employees in a way that builds relationships, boosts engagement, and improves performance. Managers and leaders can see greatly improved coaching skills by taking steps to improve their EQ – they go hand in hand!

SOURCE: Brubaker, K. (24 September 2019) "7 Tips for Coaching Employees to Improve Performance" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=11617247&article-title=7-tips-for-coaching-employees-to-improve-performance


Extended reality promises a holistic training experience, experts say

Are you utilizing augmented reality, virtual reality or extended reality in your training programs? More employers are embracing the use of virtual environments for employee training and development programs. Continue reading to learn more.


As more employers embrace virtual environments for training, tech gurus are fine-tuning the technology to be more accessible to employers. Some organizations have developed apps to take employees through soft skills training; others customized VR experiences to suit their specific training needs.

As the potential of AR and VR technology continues to unfold, and workforces reap benefits from using it, employers will need to decide how to best implement the tech in their own learning and development initiatives.

Why merge AR, VR and L&D?

When it comes to virtual training, XR (extended reality, which includes VR and AR) may the best option for employers with tricky needs, according to Toshi Anders Hoo, emerging media lab director at the Institute for the Future. "XR training is valuable in situations when the experience is too expensive, too far away, too infrequent or too dangerous," he told HR Dive. "It allows users to experience pretty close to what it's like, and that includes the physical and psychological experience."

XR isn't just for standard operating procedures, Anders Hoo added; it creates a holistic understanding, providing emotional preparedness for difficult situations. He cited Walmart's well-known VR training, which prepped employees for Black Friday shopping, but noted that the applications can be even more varied. XR can acquaint learners with the emotional experience of public speaking, uncover hiring biases or replicate the pressure of a surgical operating theater, he said.

AR and VR can also help employers better understand workers' strengths and weaknesses, Amy Vinson, associate director, safety analytics, health and safety at Tyson Foods told HR Dive in an email. It can also enforce better, safer working habits. "[Trainees] can put on goggles and virtually practice operating our plant's robotic arm to safely stack heavy boxes in high areas," she said. "It helps team leaders better understand training areas that may require extra attention."

XR can also be "an empathy engine," Anders Hoo noted, by providing anyone with a perspective on an unfamiliar challenge. "Consider a medical emergency: the learner can be the doctor, watching a patient bleed, or a loved one, helpless to assist. These scenarios have major implications for critical thinking and to help learners expand their points of view."

How does it work for learners?

The biggest challenge for classroom learning is retention, according to Shawn Gentile, training content development and delivery leader at Vitalyst, because the majority of knowledge is lost over time. Simulation-based learning, however, can be done continuously, said Gentile; "Learners can go right back into the simulation and continue to build on their competence.

And when L&D pros are examining why training is or isn't working, the tech can eliminate some of the guesswork, he said. "With simulation-based training, you can see where they're not learning and why, targeting learning points to increase retention." Accessing this data removes deviation points and allows training to focus on the organization's objectives, he added. Uniformity is another consideration: Different instructors may perform training differently, but the consistency of AR and VR training provides better knowledge, higher retention rates and a better ability track failures and update training to meet objectives, according to Gentile.

Anders Hoo said that XR, unlike video-based training, is more than the mere "illusion of learning." Videos can give learners the false perception the task they're learning will be as easy in real life as it looks, which can create performance gaps and discourage some, Anders Hoo said. However: "If you show someone a video of someone juggling," he said, "but they're holding the juggling club, they're much less likely to be discouraged when trying to learn the skill."

Forecasting the future

One concern to consider, according to Anders Hoo, is data privacy. XR captures biometric data that can identify a person by how they move their hands and head. In a one-hour VR session, he said, thousands of data points are captured that can potentially be used to later identify someone in, for example, a surveillance camera. Next-generation XR will have eye tracking capabilities and may even be able to track your heart rate and emotional state, he said. "The same systems that allow us to have more immersive experience are the same that make for very sophisticated surveillance systems," he said. As with all new HR tech, L&D pros will have to remember to ask the right questions.

For Anders Hoo, one of the most interesting things about this futuristic tech is that it's really not new at all. It was adopted in the early twentieth century for flight simulations. Almost 100 years later, it's still seen as the newest thing because developers have begun to iterate on it more. "People overestimate the impact of tech in the short term," he said, "and underestimate its impact long term."

SOURCE: O'Donnell, R. (21 May 2019) "Extended reality promises a holistic training experience, experts say" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/extended-reality-promises-a-holistic-training-experience-experts-say/554872/


6 key features your employee training program needs – and how LMS can help

One way employers can keep the right employees around and happy is by providing opportunities for professional development and training. Continue reading this blog post to learn more.


Hiring the right employees is important, but keeping them around and happy is just as essential. One way to do that is to provide opportunities for professional development and training as a way to encourage workers to improve their skills and engage further with their jobs.

While you likely have a solid training program for new employees to get them accustomed to your organization, the training options for ongoing employees are often more limited.

It’s always a good idea to encourage all employees to continue learning new skills, perfecting old ones and developing as professionals. Having well-rounded workers with a range of skills boosts your business and opens up opportunities for their advancement.

Beyond making workers happier and more productive, there are revenue benefits associated with comprehensive training, too. Companies that offer workers training programs have 24% higher profit margins than those that don’t, according to the American Society for Training and Development.

And if you don’t yet have a learning management system (LMS) solution, consider investing in one. It can help streamline the training process and strengthen your entire program while offering a range of other benefits.

Whether you already have a training program you’re looking to improve, or you’re aiming to implement one, there are certain elements every successful training and development program has.

Short, specific sessions

You know better than anyone that employees’ attention spans aren’t long. No one wants to sit through hours of training, no matter how valuable the information is.

Focus instead on short, specific bursts of information that will interest workers and guarantee they retain the information.

This strategy, called microlearning, emphasizes brief (usually three to five minutes) sessions designed to meet specific outcomes. You can use it for both formal training and informal, but it’s generally more successful when applied to informal skills training instead of intense or complex processed-based training.

There are four essential characteristics of microlearning to hone in on. Make sure your training is:

  • Lean: It shouldn’t need a mob of people to implement
  • Adaptable: There should be ways to apply the training to many employees across a range of departments and locations. Although specificity is a key component of microlearning, it can’t be so specific that only one employee will benefit, otherwise, it’s not worth the time and resources.
  • Simple: Avoid over-complicating things and confusing workers.
  • Seamless: Use the technology at your disposal. Your solution shouldn’t require in-person sit-downs, but instead should be transferable to employees’ mobile devices and laptops when possible.

Many LMS solutions are accessible on mobile devices and desktops and allow you to create your own courses to provide the exact content you want to employees.

Remember: Microlearning doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of your training program. After all, there are some topics that simply can’t be condensed into bite-sized pieces. But integrating this method can help spice up your program and supply a new way of doing things.

Assessments

An effective training program is only as good as what employees retain, so you’ll want a way to measure where they started and how the training has impacted them.

A pre-training assessment can also shine a light on what workers are looking for and what they still need to learn. This allows you to target specific skills training and development to the employees who need it, while not wasting the time of workers who’re all caught up.

Post-training assessments, meanwhile, help you see who’s mastered the training and who still needs help. They can also show you where your training program could be improved.

To ensure assessments are as helpful as possible:

  • Avoid yes or no questions, instead of allowing workers to provide a variety of feedback.
  • Look over how the training objectives line up with workers’ perceptions of their professional development.
  • Offer both task- and skill-based evaluations that look at performance and adaptation of the skill, rather than memorization ability.

Note: These evaluations don’t need to take the form of traditional tests. Very few people enjoy taking tests, so taking the time to turn assessments into a game or more fun activity encourages workers to participate and provide their honest opinions without worrying about being “graded.”

With some LMS solutions, assessments can be taken online with the information stored right where you can access it easily. Often, you can also compile the results into reports that give you at-a-glance clarity on who benefited most from the training and who still needs improvement.

Collaboration

Providing chances for your workers to interact and form connections has multiple benefits for your training program and organization at large.

When employees have bonds with their co-workers, they’re more engaged in their tasks and more productive. Getting them to collaborate during training can help convince them to take the course seriously while encouraging teamwork beyond the training.

Collaboration tools, such as built-in messaging systems and discussion boards, are prevalent among LMS solutions and give workers the chance to learn together and develop along the same paths.

Multimedia options

You’ll also want to expand your horizons beyond basic text-based training. We’re living in an age with constantly evolving technology, and your training program should take advantage of the options at your disposal.

Workers will be more engaged with the content you offer if it’s more than words on a page. And with LMS solutions, creating and importing multimedia content into your training is easier than ever.

This doesn’t mean you can’t implement text into your training, of course, but rather that you should also have:

  • video
  • interactive content
  • images, and
  • audio.

Video and images are already extremely popular in training, and if you have a current program it’s likely there are already videos and photos in it. Don’t forget about graphs and other diagrams that could help clarify certain concepts.

Interactive content can take a range of forms, from quizzes given to workers after each module to games employees play to help them retain the information they’ve learned.

These games can also increase collaboration during training, which helps participants stay engaged in what they’re learning and form connections with co-workers. Bonding with co-workers is one of the benefits offered by in-house training programs and these bonds often strengthen employee engagement with your company.

Another option is audio content, like podcasts. Offering audio content allows workers to train while performing other tasks, since they don’t have to be in a specific room or looking at something to follow along.

If you’re worried about carving enough time out in employees’ workdays to add training or professional development, podcasts and other audio content are a good bridge to get them learning new skills while still able to complete their jobs.

Easy access

A training program won’t work if its inaccessible. If workers have to show up on a specific day and time to a certain conference room, it’s significantly less likely they’ll take you up on the offer.

And if the training is mandatory, employees won’t be excited to learn and may resist absorbing the info.

This is where an LMS solution comes in handy the most. It provides a central location for training and courses to be stored and accessed. Workers can check out training from all of their devices and tackle the topics individually or in groups, depending on what works best for them.

Having an LMS solution also helps if you employ remote workers or have multiple locations, since you don’t have to coordinate a time for them to come in or run multiple training sessions at once.

Professional development

Workers, especially younger ones, want a way forward in their careers. They don’t want to just learn skills applicable to their current jobs. They want options and the chance to develop further and pick up skills that will serve them well as they advance.

Clearly define how your training program will factor in professional development, so employees can see what the payoff will be down the line. This also motivates them to stay with your company in the long run, since you’re enabling them to develop and practice new abilities and investing in their futures.

Most LMS solutions have the ability to create customized learning paths depending on where employees are in their careers and what they’re aiming to learn and accomplish.

Laying out the ways forward can also help with recruiting and hiring, since prospective employees can see the opportunities for advancement and growth available to them.

Bottom line

Training matters for every employee, not just new hires or recent transfers. A strong comprehensive training program is essential to building up your workforce and keeping workers engaged in their jobs.

When given the chance to boost their skills and develop professionally, employees are also happier and more productive, making the potential expense of implementing training programs worth it.

Plus, LMS solutions can help improve your training and offer a variety of features to employees and trainers alike in a cost-effective way.

Your training doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to be helpful for your workers and provide benefits for your business. It just has to work for your company and employees.

SOURCE: Ketchum, K. (18 February 2019) "6 key features your employee training program needs - and how LMS can help" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://www.hrmorning.com/employee-training-program-lms/


When Companies Should Invest in Training Their Employees — and When They Shouldn’t

Do you invest in training and development activities at your organization? According to an industry report, U.S. companies spent $90 billion in 2017 on training and development activities. Read on to learn more.


According to one industry report, U.S. companies spent over $90 billion dollars on training and development activities in 2017, a year-over-year increase of 32.5 %. While many experts emphasize the importance and benefits of employee development — a more competitive workforce, increased employee retention, and higher employee engagement — critics point to a painful lack of results from these investments. Ultimately, there is truth in both perspectives. Training is useful at times but often fails, especially when it is used to address problems that it can’t actually solve.

Many well-intended leaders view training as a panacea to obvious learning opportunities or behavioral problems. For example, several months ago, a global financial services company asked me to design a workshop to help their employees be less bureaucratic and more entrepreneurial. Their goal was to train people to stop waiting around for their bosses’ approval, and instead, feel empowered to make decisions on their own. They hoped, as an outcome, decisions would be made faster. Though the company seemed eager to invest, a training program was not the right way to introduce the new behavior they wanted their employees to learn.

Training can be a powerful medium when there is proof that the root cause of the learning need is an undeveloped skill or a knowledge deficit. For those situations, a well-designed program with customized content, relevant case material, skill-building practice, and a final measurement of skill acquisition works great. But, in the case of this organization, a lack of skills had very little to do with their problem. After asking leaders in the organization why they felt the need for training, we discovered the root causes of their problem had more to do with:

  • Ineffective decision-making processes that failed to clarify which leaders and groups owned which decisions
  • Narrowly distributed authority, concentrated at the top of the organization
  • No measurable expectations that employees make decisions
  • No technologies to quickly move information to those who needed it to make decisions

Given these systemic issues, it’s unlikely a training program would have had a productive, or sustainable outcome. Worse, it could have backfired, making management look out of touch.

Learning is a consequence of thinking, not teaching. It happens when people reflect on and choose a new behavior. But if the work environment doesn’t support that behavior, a well-trained employee won’t make a difference. Here are three conditions needed to ensure a training solution sticks.

1. Internal systems support the newly desired behavior. Spotting unwanted behavior is certainly a clue that something needs to change. But the origins of that unwanted behavior may not be a lack of skill. Individual behaviors in an organization are influenced by many factors, like: how clearly managers establish, communicate, and stick to priorities, what the culture values and reinforces, how performance is measured and rewarded, or how many levels of hierarchy there are. These all play a role in shaping employee behaviors. In the case above, people weren’t behaving in a disempowered way because they didn’t know better. The company’s decision-making processes forbid them from behaving any other way. Multiple levels of approval were required for even tactical decisions. Access to basic information was limited to high-ranking managers. The culture reinforced asking permission for everything. Unless those issues were addressed, a workshop would prove useless.

2. There is commitment to change. Any thorough organizational assessment will not only define the skills employees need to develop, it will also reveal the conditions required to reinforce and sustain those skills once a training solution is implemented. Just because an organization recognizes the factors driving unwanted behavior, doesn’t mean they’re open to changing them. When I raised the obvious concerns with the organization above, I got the classic response, “Yes, yes, of course we know those issues aren’t helping, but we think if we can get the workshop going, we’ll build momentum and then get to those later.” This is usually code for, “It’s never going to happen.” If an organization isn’t willing to address the causes of a problem, a training will not yield its intended benefit.

3. The training solution directly serves strategic priorities. When an organization deploys a new strategy — like launching a new market or product — training can play a critical role in equipping people with the skills and knowledge they need to help that strategy succeed. But when a training initiative has no discernible purpose or end goal, the risk of failure is raised. For example, one of my clients rolled out a company-wide mindfulness workshop. When I asked a few employees what they thought, they said, “It was interesting. At least it got me two hours away from my cubicle.” When I asked the sponsoring executive to explain her thought process behind the training, she said, “Our employee engagement data indicated our people are feeling stressed and overworked, so I thought it would be a nice perk to help them focus and reduce tension.” But when I asked her what was causing the stress, her answer was less definitive: “I don’t really know, but most of the negative data came from Millennials and they complain about being overworked. Plus, they like this kind of stuff.” She believed her training solution had strategic relevance because it linked to a vital employee metric. But evaluations indicated that, though employees found the training “interesting,” it didn’t actually reduce their stress. There are a myriad of reasons why the workload could have been causing employees stress. Therefore, this manager’s energy would have been better directed at trying to determine those reasons in her specific department and addressing them accordingly — despite her good intentions.

If you are going to invest millions of dollars into company training, be confident it is addressing a strategic learning need. Further, be sure your organization can and will sustain new skills and knowledge by addressing the broader factors that may threaten their success. If you aren’t confident in these conditions, don’t spend the money.

SOURCE: Carucci, R. (29 October 2018). "When Companies Should Invest in Training Their Employees – and When They Shouldn’t" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2018/10/when-companies-should-invest-in-training-their-employees-and-when-they-shouldnt


How On-the-Job Training can Solve Your Pipeline Problems

Great article by Paul Wolfe on employee development as an investment to your company.

Original Post from SHRM.org on July 27, 2016

On-the-job training was popular a generation ago but has been steadily declining in the U.S. for decades. Companies expect candidates who are armed with a degree or certification and relevant work experience, which is discounting a large pool of the American workforce.

This model worked for companies when there were more qualified people than jobs available, but today’s labor market paints a different picture. Now we are seeing a lot more demand for specialized talent than there are qualified candidates.  And though we have seen strong hiring, wage growth has been stagnate, leaving many workers frustrated with the lack of progress in their careers. In fact, only 15% of the job force are currently in fields that are experiencing wage growth and competitive salaries, which are the “opportunity” jobs, according to a new report released by Indeed’s research team Hiring Lab.

The upside is that 35% of all job postings on Indeed are these opportunity jobs, which are in the fields of healthcare, management, technology, business and finance and engineering. There are a lot of talented workers out there, employed or not, that have transferable skills that would be interested in moving into a role with steady wage growth and competitive salaries.

That’s why I think it's important for companies to consider investing in employee development to fill roles within their organization. Investing in training helps workers get into a high-growth career and enables companies to build its own pipeline of talent.

Employee development can look very different depending on your company or industry. For example, at Indeed we bring in about 80 university graduates from around the world to our Austin technology office for a summer program called Indeed Universtiy. We train these new hires on Indeed’s data-driven development process and give them the freedom to develop new product ideas. This is helping us to fill our most in-demand jobs - software engineers - while training them to contribute right away and offer innovative ideas for our company to test.  Finding a software engineer who already has 3-5 years of experience is extremely competitive, so as a company we made the decision to invest in new college grads to help fill this need.

Offering development to your employees is an investment, but for those companies who are struggling to fill roles in these highly competitive and specialized fields, it can help close the gap of of the mismatch we are seeing in the labor market.

See the original article here.

Source:

Wolfe, P. (2016, July 27). How on-the-job training can solve your pipeline problems [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blog.shrm.org/blog/how-on-the-job-training-can-solve-your-pipeline-problems


Top 10 Employee Training Mistakes

Originally posted on http://ebn.benefitnews.com

Employee training can be a valuable benefit, yet much of the money and time companies spend on training programs is wasted, contends John Tschohl, president of Service Quality Institute, a customer service training company. Here are the main reasons group training fails:

1. Large groups

You can’t have a good group discussion if 100 people are in the room. Try to limit training sessions to 15 people so everyone has a chance to participate. If the group size is too large, most employees won’t participate.

2. Conversation domination

It’s natural in groups for three people to speak up while everyone else stays silent. Facilitators must call on everyone in the room to participate — if they don’t, they won’t buy into the training goals.

3. Silly games

People don’t like role-playing games. Games and exercises have to do with something that builds success as a team. Employees need to be actively involved in the exercise.

4. Complicated training materials

If the material is not easily understood, it will not be implemented. Test the material on several small groups. Make adjustments, then roll out the final version to the entire organization.

5. Facilitator-dominated sessions

Facilitators should be seen and seldom heard. They should steer the conversation, but they should not dominate the discussion. They should ask leading questions and make sure everyone talks at some point.

6. Lectures

Remember how you fell asleep when attending a boring lecture in college? Your employees are no different. Lectures are not an effective way to get employees to change their attitudes and beliefs or learn new skills.

7. Irrelevant information

If the material isn't relevant to their jobs, employees won’t accept it. They want ideas they can use immediately.

8. Bad physical environment

Learning can’t take place if employees aren't comfortable. Invest in a room that looks pleasant and professional, advises Tschohl. It sounds basic, but make sure the room is well heated or cooled and has comfortable seats. Offer refreshments. Make sure there aren't any outside distractions such as noise.

9. Too much repetition

Employees can’t watch the same training materials twice. Organizations need to bring in new trainers with new information and different teaching styles.

10. Not accounting for different learning styles

Millennials may learn differently than their older colleagues and may get bored more easily. If the training isn't entertaining, you may lose their interest and participation.

 

 


Prepare Your Employees for Virtual Training?

Original article from http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

Virtual training is an effective new way to train … as long as learners are ready to engage with the new training environment. Today's Advisor presents part one of a two-part series in which we hear from one expert on virtual learning.

When making the move to virtual training, "we, as trainers, often get caught up with what we need to do to prepare," says Cindy Huggett, training consultant and author of Virtual Training Basics (www.cindyhuggett.com).

However, it is important to keep in mind that while virtual training is a new way for trainers to train, it is "a new way for learners to learn as well." As a result, trainers need to prepare learners to thrive in a virtual training environment.

In an article for our sister publication, Training Forum, Huggett offers three suggestions to help ensure that virtual training will be effective.

  1. "Define what you mean by virtual training. There are so many different definitions out there."
  2. "Be very purposeful about your design," she says. "What are the learning objectives, and what is the best way to accomplish them?"
  3. Make sure learners are familiar with the technology before training begins; that they understand "what learning online is going to be like"; and that they know how to minimize distractions.

"I'm a big fan of having a kickoff session," that is, a 20- to 30-minute prerequisite session to be completed before training actually begins, Huggett says. That helps familiarize learners with the content and the technology (e.g., learning how to submit questions, respond to poll questions). If they are new to the technology, they will experience what it is like to be in an online class."

She also suggests giving learners tips in advance to minimize disruptions during training, such as going to a reserved conference room alone to participate in the training. A checklist can be an effective tool, as well; and that can be as simple as instructing learners to set their phone to "do not disturb," turn their daily to-do list face down on their desk, and hang a “do not disturb” sign on their office door and ask them to enforce it, she says.

Why It Matters

  • As more and more Americans get into social media, they will become more open to learning in a social media environment at work.
  • As the economy continues to sputter, your employer may have less money to devote to training—and virtual training is inherently less expensive than face-to- face training.
  • As younger generations, who've grown up with social media and mobile technologies, move into your workforce, you'll be ready to train them in formats they know well.

 


Using Social Media for Learning Gets Better Foothold in Workplace

Source: http://www.workforce.com

By Garry Kranz

Social learning may not yet be a mainstay of corporate training departments, although it’s more than a trend inside larger enterprises.

A Jan. 22 report from Bersin by Deloitte, an Oakland, California-based research firm formerly known as Bersin & Associates, says large employers are fueling increased adoption of social-learning tools, such as internal employee blogs, wikis and online expert communities. Enterprises with at least 10,000 employees spent an average of $46,000 on social tools in 2012, three times the average two years ago.

The uptick contributed to an overall spending jump of 12 percent on employee training last year, according to The Corporate Learning Factbook 2013: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market. The study is based on research involving 300 organizations of various sizes and industries.

Most U.S.-based employers use some type of social tool to facilitate greater employee learning, including internal blogs, wikis, subject-matter directories and “communities of practice,” in which employees develop and share their expertise, says Karen O’Leonard, a Bersin by Deloitte analyst who authored the report.

“The big challenge for learning and development professionals is to create a new mind-set of continuous learning, not thinking of social tools as one component within a specific program,” O’Leonard says.

Organizations using social tools face another near-term hurdle: how to seamlessly organize the increasing volume of user-generated content. “We expect content management will become a growing issue. The research shows that the most effective learning organizations have created a strategy for content management and knowledge sharing,” O’Leonard says.

This year’s report uses Bersin’s proprietary “maturity model,” which lets an organization benchmark its learning function based on four levels of effectiveness and business impact.

Most companies are not at the highest rung of maturity, but there is a marked difference between those that are highly mature and those that are still getting there, O’Leonard says. The most effective learning functions are less involved with program management and play an active role in developing long-range strategies.

“High-impact learning organizations have L&D professionals who are very adept at performance consulting and building the capabilities the organization will need in the future,” O’Leonard says, referring to learning and development. “They’re outsourcing noncore competencies and getting away from the business of delivering ad hoc training.”

Also, the manner in which companies spent their training dollars reflects the varying level of effectiveness and maturity. U.S. companies spent about 16 percent of their training budgets on outside learning services, products and consultants in 2012, up from 12 percent in 2009. In general, organizations spent less money on expensive customized training and opted instead to purchase commodity-priced vendor products, the report finds.

At organizations deemed highly mature, the inverse is true: they invested money in instructor-led custom content and assessment programs, with off-the-shelf training products a lower spending priority.

Other notable findings:

The 12 percent rise in training expenditures equates to about $706 per employee. However, companies at the top end of the maturity scale spent $867 per employee—34 percent higher than spending by companies at the lower maturity level.

Many companies beefed up their learning and development staff last year, but the gains were offset by faster growth in the number of employees receiving learning. That dynamic has led to a decline in the trainer-to-learner ratio at many companies and is “one sign of the changing role of the L&D function” from clearinghouse to facilitator.

Training spending increased the most in the technology and manufacturing sectors, which each posted year-over-year increases of 20 percentage points.

The 12 percent spending surge shows companies are reinvesting in skills development after a long period of financial instability, O’Leonard says.


How to Set Up New Employees for Success

By Linda Doell

Source: Open Forum

Just because you've successfully weeded out job candidates and settled on a new hire doesn't mean the job of bringing that employee on board is over. In fact, to give the new worker the best chance at success, your work is just beginning.

The Cost of Failure Is High

If you thought the cost of hiring a new employee is high, know it's nothing compared with the cost of losing that employee if the worker isn't integrated into the company from the start.

A staggering 50 percent of executives either quit or are fired within their first three years on the job and the cost of that turnover could be many times the worker's base salary, according to the human resources think tank Human Capital Institute. Couple that with the loss of productivity from an employee who isn't clear about a job's objectives and the cost to a business can be significant.

Individualized Attention Is Best

Sure, orientation programs teach the basic ins and outs of the company to new employees. Often, however, that antiseptic approach gives the new hire the minimum and instills a sink-or-swim mentality.

Onboarding a worker tailors the information more toward the employee and encourages success—something the new hire is eager to do on the job.

Architect and business owner Gerit Lewisch of Pennsylvania says a business should have all its paperwork ready and the technical details in place before the new employee walks in on the first day.

"That will show the new hire that the company is truly interested and that the employer means business," he says. "Keep in mind the hire is eager to show off his or her qualifications and will try to have a running start."

The Devil Is in the Details

When the new employee walks in the door, the following things should already be in place or happen to maximize the worker's first day on the job:

1. Prepare all the paperwork. This includes tax forms, insurance applications, work releases and any other necessary documents to get the worker started.

2. Personally welcome your new employee. Nothing shows how much you care about your new hire than a face-to-face greeting, especially in a small business. On the flip side, do you really want a new hire to get the impression your company is indifferent if you forgo a personal greeting?

3. Discuss job expectations. Know there will be a learning curve for any new worker, but make sure the hire understands the job and its requirements to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings.

4. Set up the work station. Beyond equipment, make sure to have any computer log-ins, phone system IDs, e-mail accounts and security clearance needed for the worker to do the job.

5. Show your new hire around. Give a tour of your company and introduce the new worker to the other staff. Don't be surprised if the new hire has questions about basic things—remember he or she has a lot to absorb on the first day.

6. Keep it simple on Day 1. Give the new worker a simple task that relates to the job. Let the worker accomplish something on the first day.

The Buddy System

Assign a staff member who is well-versed in your company's culture and expectations to be a mentor to the new employee so the person has a connection to go to if questions should arise.

The important idea here is to get the worker plugged in to the staff as easily and as quickly as possible. The mentor shouldn't be the new hire's direct boss because the boss will be responsible for assessing the worker's progress as he or she settles in to the job.

The rest of the staff, too, should be informed of how the new employee will fit in to the workplace to avoid any confusion. "The company has to make sure that the co-workers understand the needs of the company and that the new employee does not threaten their jobs, but will enhance the team in place," Lewisch says.

Linda Doell is an award-winning journalist with more than more than 20 years' experience as a reporter, editor and blogger.