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Dear Workforce: How Do I Choose the Best Method for Retraining an Entrenched Workforce?

April 13, 2006
Dear Wary:
 
Your workers likely will be apprehensive, mainly because people naturally resist change. They may also be plagued by a lingering, albeit unnecessary, fear of consequences should they struggle to learn the new technology. Head off these concerns by communicating early and often to help them cope with the stressful dynamics of change.
Before choosing a training method, be sure you understand the specific skills that your workforce needs to learn to efficiently use the new technology. There's no right or wrong, black-or-white answer to implementing new processes. Some companies have successfully outsourced their training programs, while others have combined e-learning and off-site training. The method you choose should be driven by your company's particular training needs. You should customize your solution as much as possible, and only a thorough analysis of training needs will help you do that.
Your analysis also should include more than just a skills-gap study. You need to know how much training money exists in the corporate budget. Do you have the facilities in place to begin training immediately? How much time will be required to ramp up training and help employees learn the new techniques? Will human resources have the corporate support to foster a climate of learning? If not, human resources will need to make the case for training by pointing out how it squares with the company's long-range business objectives (e.g., boosting productivity, increasing sales, reducing turnover, etc.).
Once you gather the information, take time to analyze it. If possible, make the analysis the responsibility of a group, such as an ad hoc advisory committee composed of your company's stakeholders. In most cases, this will bring basic cause-and-effect relationships to light that make your training decisions fairly obvious. A lack of training facilities or available in-house training expertise, for example, could lead you to conclude to outsource part, if not all, of the training initiative.
Use the information you gather to craft a solid, well-thought-out training proposal. Get feedback both from management and your employees. Remember, the more input you seek, the greater your chances of succeeding. Although the analytical process may seem overwhelming at first, it is essential.
Training is only one component to include as your company makes major changes to its processes. Aside from training, you may need to select new hardware and software, develop new job competencies, craft an internal communications strategy, devise change-management strategies and launch a rollout plan with predetermined priorities, timing and a budget. To make sure training is taking hold, don't forget an assessment and evaluation process, perhaps one that ties performance to employee incentives or compensation.
SOURCE: Dominique Giguère,Currents Group Inc., Toronto, Ontario.
LEARN MORE: How Do We Get Employees to Embrace Change? Also,avoiding mistakes when beginning a training program; Rockwell Collins'training needs analysis; quantifyingthe value of a training technology investment.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.