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train-the-trainerTrainers' training and development is essential for your organisation's success. It is important to ensure your trainers' skills, abilities and knowledge levels are being regularly updated. There are a variety of reasons for trainers' training and development, including (but not limited to):

  • Onboarding new hires
  • Individual trainer development plans, where you are training to fill a skill or knowledge gap, address a performance issue, or prepare the trainer to take on greater managerial and/or leadership responsibilities
  • Succession planning, where you have identified high-potentials and are grooming the next generation of team leaders, coordinators, or training managers
  • Addressing technology changes and providing the skills and knowledge needed to leverage new and emerging technologies (eLearning, mobile learning, etc)
  • Addressing legal and/or regulatory issues and changes (Compliance)
  • Helping your team address a range of issues and opportunities around growth and change, including helping the team and organisation respond and adapt to structural change in the economy (new courses, funding opportunities, target markets, etc)

Training organisations should develop a solid organisational PD plan that includes a selection of public, open-enrolment, programs of choice for trainers and other staff members' individual learning needs and custom in-house training for team training and development needs.

Some of the key benefits for organisations who make employee training and development a priority include the following:

Increased Productivity
Timely and relevant training helps boost productivity. By closing skills, knowledge and performance gaps, and arming your trainers with new ideas, best practices and skills that they can put into practice in their jobs right away, their competence, ability and confidence levels increase. As a result, these trainers are able to make better decisions, and do their jobs smarter and more efficiently.

Return on Investment (ROI)
By making training and development a strategic priority of the organisation, and implementing it in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, a company can benefit from measurable ROI. You can measure for impact, for qualitative and quantitative ROI, and there are various ways to do so. For example, you can do pre- and post-training assessments and measure the improvement; you can then translate this into financial return when you calculate the value of saved time, increased productivity, increased sales. It is important for organisations to view training and development as an investment, not an expense, and to leverage training and development for the achievement of business/organisational goals. Investment in trainers' training and development should be regarded as a capital investment where you will look for ROI.

Increased Employee Satisfaction and Retention
We all know the costs of high turnover. By investing in employees training and development, you are helping your employees feel more connected, valued, accountable, focused, and part of the team. And while we cannot expect any employee to stay with an organisation for their entire career - nor do we necessarily want them to - it has been proven to increase employees' sense of loyalty and decrease turnover.

Most people, by nature, want to learn new things, expand their knowledge base and skills set, and grow as professionals. Most people do want to be able to advance in their careers. When the organisation has invested in their development, both the company and the individual can reap great rewards. Not only can training and development be a tool for filling knowledge and skills gaps, but also a mechanism for rewarding employees who are high-potentials, high-achievers. A recent study published by NCVER shows that 46% of trainers don't feel supported by managers in their professional development.

The subtext of all training and development - particularly in-house (custom) programs - is always teambuilding. These initiatives tend to bring employees closer together, strengthen culture, and help individual team members identify new partners, collaborators, mentors and subject-matter experts within the organisation. In a sector with rapid regulatory changes is also a great opportunity to achieve consistency in quality and compliance issues.

Fostering an Organisational Learning Culture
It is important to foster a learning culture at your organisation, one where expectations are clearly set from the outset, and where the benefits for the employee and for the organisation are shared. It is also important to be able to point to success stories within the organisation, and to always walk the talk.

In order to ensure their success, it is important to have a plan in place for the transfer of knowledge back at the workplace. You can encourage the trainer to implement the key things they learned right away, and you can create common language and frameworks across your organisation by ensuring there is consistency in your training and development approach.

By sending your trainers to open enrolment (public) programs where they can network with their peers at different organisations and across industries, they are provided with the forum to test ideas in a safe environment and discuss ideas and best practices that they can bring back to their organisation. They should be encouraged to apply these new ideas to their own workplace immediately, and also to share ideas with their teams back at the organisation. One way of doing this is to encourage the employee to host a "lunch and learn", where they can present the key take-aways to their teammates. This will also help with the transfer of knowledge, as it will help to reinforce a culture of learning and create common language and frameworks for the team.

At the end of the day, it is our trainers that are our greatest assets. While we upgrade our resources and equipment, we need to renew individual skills sets, upgrade our teams, and arm them with what they need to know to remain competitive and do their best work. In this increasingly competitive global marketplace, the organisations who invest in employee training and development are the ones who will win.

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Dont Forsake Your Own LearningVocational education and training professionals must respect their title and be responsible for their own learning if they expect respect from others. While this seems like common sense, many of our colleagues (particularly in the RTO environment) fail to challenge what they know and make little attempt to discover what they don't.

To be open to learning you must be open to learn
As VET professionals, our objective is not only to foster employee learning but to become learners ourselves. As a profession, we must be the first to practice what we preach. If we don't lead by example, then what are we good for? Our own professional development is absolutely essential if we want to instill learning within our organisations.

Our concern arose over a many conversations with learning professionals during the workshop Managing trainers and assessors. We asked participants to interpret the VET Quality framework (particularly requirements for trainers and assessors) and challange them to find ways to use the legal framework to help them to achieve their RTO's goals. Many could not see the connection at the beginning of the training, and some even disagree with the relevance of the requirements under SNR 15.4. Professional Development is an esential part of our system, is in fact our commitment to relevant, industry current learning.

Relevant PD for Trainers
Again, being a learning professional is a significant responsibility. You must be a learner yourself, and more importantly, you must be a critical thinker. Learning is not a unidirectional process. Learning is an exchange of knowledge, ideas, and discovery of the unknown. Ultimately, our job is to improve employee performance. We must lead by example to foster lasting learning benefits. To do this, we must:

  • instill a need and urgency for continuous learning
  • develop learning designs that stimulate discovery, ensuring participants want to learn more
  • have excitement about our own professional development, not just in training and education but in the industry
  • challenge the status quo
  • think critically and support the relationship between industry and learning concepts.

Possess a healthy dose of skepticism and never take anything at face value. Question everything you see, read, and hear...even what we write and say in our courses. You are in the business of learning. And if you want to be seen as a professional, it's important to act like one. Master what you know and discover what you don't. Ultimately, if we are not actively learning and challenging preconceived notions, who will?

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Professional development is performance management or employee developmentIf you ask an employee on what a performance management is, he or she will mention that it is nothing but the annual appraisal of his or her performance followed by salary revisions. Trainers in particular also tend to view the professional development process with a lot of skepticism, as generally they are not happy with non-relevant training provided, the subjective appraisals and get dis-satisfied with their salary revisions.

An effective professional development strategy based on a performance management system should not stop with just once a year performance appraisals and salary revisions. It should be much more comprehensive, and one of the key goals of such an effective performance management system should be to develop employees.

What is employee development?
Employee development consists of activities that are initiated by an organisation that would help in the overall development of an employee. An effective performance management system is one which gives high priority for employee development. Employee development encompasses the following activities:

  1. Identify and conduct necessary training for trainers. Proper planned training programs would help trainers to acquire the necessary competencies needed for the job.
  2. Give enough opportunities to trainers by recognising their talent and giving them more responsibilities in tasks related to training and assessment design in consultation with the industry. This will help trainers to grow to leadership positions in their organisations.
  3. Identify poor performing trainers and put them under a performance improvement plan so that they can be effectively guided and groomed to become good performers.
  4. Identify any other reasons for non-performance of an employee, like non-availability of tools to perform their job or other external factors and remove those obstacles so that trainers are in a position to perform their job well.

Benefits of trainers development
When a professional development system focusses on trainers development as well, the return of investment from such a system would be good due to the following reasons:

  1. Well trained trainers become more competent and execute their responsibilities productively improving industry engagement and reducing compliance issues. They easily achieve the goals that are set for them under performance planning activity.
  2. Trainers become happy as their development is taken as the prime focus. This will lead to better employee/contractor engagement and reduces attrition.
  3. When leaders are groomed within the organisation, it helps in succession planning and reduces the associate costs and risks in hiring a new employee.
  4. When facilities are created for trainers to do their job effectively and obstacles are removed, it ensures that the RTO goals are met.

How do you convert your Professional Development System to Employee Development System?
Most companies do performance appraisals once a year and use performance management software for streamlining the process (self-evaluation, 360 degree feedback, manager's feedback & rating, recommendation, etc.). Due to the volume of the work and stress associated with this process, the process stops with a compliance checklist or the salary revisions. Ideally, the RTO's HRs and managers should extend this process to identify the training needs, strengths & weaknesses of the people/organisation, people development needs and put a clear roadmap for addressing them.
When the feedback obtained is used to address the ways to improve the performance and capabilities of individuals, the system starts moving towards the development management system. Conduct the feedback process periodically (eg. Every quarter or month), in this way it is lot easier to obtain/provide feedback to the team members. Managers need not hold on to providing appreciations or weaknesses for yearly appraisals.

And, best is to move onto continuous feedback and provide them then and there. When this process is done on regular and close intervals, the performance appraisal system starts to become a Development Management System. Adopt a Competencies Framework and continuously map performance, competencies and aspirations clubbed with actions. Following are the steps:

  1. Adopt a suitable trainer's capabilities framework
  2. Do the feedback cycles minimally, every quarter.
  3. Provide feedback to trainers, review the status of goals accomplished, listen to the team member's feedback and derive specific action items. These action items could be sending the team member for any specific training, equipping the team member with necessary skill sets, etc.
  4. Maintain the scores in each cycle and use these cycle and finding should be used in annual performance appraisal. (Theoretically, annual performance appraisal score should be just an average of the scores obtained during monthly/quarterly feedback cycles).

By doing the above, the amount of compliance stress is reduced respectively during the appraisal process. And, this process will really help managers, HRs and employees as they really see true value of doing the above. That is when "Pay for Performance" comes.

Insources can help your organisations to create and implement a professional development strategy focused on employee development system that will support your RTO's growths in compliance with the VET Quality Framework regulation. We delivery training and offer consulting services on recruit and manage trainers and RTO's staff.

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