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Training and development: a tricky business

This is a guest post by Sanra Upeslacis who is Manager, Talent Retention and Acquisition, NATIONAL Public Relations, her part articles are here.

There’s nothing worse than sitting through a boring training session that a supervisor implored you to attend.  When an organization decides to offer “development opportunities” for employees, or teach the workings of a new computer system (the old one worked fine, thank you very much), many employees dread attending formal training sessions.

Why is that?  Maybe it’s because the people arranging the training have not asked employees what they really want or need out of professional development.  What’s more, if the people organizing the training haven’t experienced the session themselves firsthand, they will have no idea how beneficial the experience could really be.

My company – Canada’s largest public relations firm – is particularly discerning when it comes to screening training and development opportunities presented by outside experts.  As communicators, we know that if you can’t grab an audience within the first 15 seconds, you’ve lost them for the whole day.

Some training experts have called my firm “a challenging customer” when it comes to reviewing the modules proposed.  From our standpoint, if we are filling a room with valued employees for several hours on a given day, we had better offer something more profound than flow charts and fancy chit-chat.  We want our people to walk away believing something has changed in the way they view their work and their role in the company.  Nothing less is worth the time invested.

Today’s employees are looking for more than just money.  They are hungry to learn new skills and want an opportunity to fully develop in their career.  Training and development are critical tools to help employees enhance performance and broaden understanding.  The trick is to provide a development experience that is relevant, meaningful and engaging.

Taking the time to assess which opportunities best address the specific needs of your people will go a long way toward reaching the desired training goal. In the end, this could mean that senior people within the organization will need to develop or lead a particular training effort themselves, because they know better than anyone what truly makes your organization thrive.
Well trained employees are better prepared for the demands of their job. This leads to greater job satisfaction, improved self-confidence and professional growth.

Training and development are about knowledge transfer.  The more your people become exposed to the knowledge that is required to make the organization run well, the better prepared you will be to succeed.
Sandra Upeslacis is the Manager of Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, Canada’s largest public relations firm with more than 325 employees in nine offices across Canada, in London and New York. www.national.ca . Email, [email protected]
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