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3 Ways to Make Training Programs Not Suck

I have basically accepted the fact that we will have another recession.  For what it's worth, my proof is based on exaggerated media stories and old dudes at the gym who claim to be experts on our economy.  I would like to thank the recession from 2007/2008 for humbling me. But, before you go Neutron Jack on anyone, let me convince you of a different way to help your people get through the next recession.

This last recession taught us how lean and versatile our work peeps need to be.  We quickly realized there was no room for people without passion or initiative.  In theory, most of those types were dropped during the last recession.  But what do you do now?  You have a great team.  They are passionate people who take on more projects than a husband in the dog house.  Because I am an HR dude, I will explain below how you can build a training program to get your business through the tough times.

1. Find out how people can become better at their job.  Do this by identifying the skills and competencies that are needed to lead your business to success and build training programs around these areas.  It comes down to basics.  Focus.  Go assess your workforce to determine the skills they need to be successful in their jobs.  I don't care how you assess them.  Send a surveymonkey link or ask them in the cafeteria.  Just go figure it out and make sure whatever makes them more successful will make the company more successful.

2. Do not F$@ up step one above.  You must get this part right.  Just like you a surgeon has to find the right body part to improve.  You have to find the right competency or skill to improve.  Once you find these competencies and skills, narrow it down to a few and focus on them for the next 3 years.  Why 3 years?  Because that's how long it will take to make a change and improve in these areas.  Be flexible to changes along the way, but have a plan.  A bad plan is better than no plan.  Make sure senior leadership supports this plan and run it to the ground.

3.  Spend some money to find some training vendors or train people in house.  Yes, that's right.  Spend money in a recession.  Just budget for it.  I am not talking millions of dollars.  Basically encourage your people to learn new skills through new courses or programs and give them chances to use it at work. 

Developing a training program that will enhance people's skills in ways that can boost your company's productivity will help you any business climate.  Worst case scenario you have to lay someone off.  However, you have prepared them to be successful in the job market by building their skills.  Best case scenario you survive the storm, your people are more skilled and the company is more profitable. Training is often the first to get cut when times are tough.  But if you focus on aligning the strategy of the company to the skills needed by the colleagues, training has a good chance of sticking around during tough times.