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Training: Getting It When There's No Money For It

by C.S.Clarke, Ph.D.

Even when times are good, many employers don't want the expense of providing either external or in-house training. Some don't even want to spend time and resources on on-the-job training. When times are hard, training budgets are often among the first to go.

And yet, here are some things that are well-known: Productivity relies on human performance. Human performance relies a great deal on training. If you are a manager or small business owner you must make sure that your employees have the knowledge and skills to do the job. If you are an employee, you must keep your current skills and know-how updated and, often, acquire new skills, in order to keep growing on your job or be able to get better employment.

So, you need a way to get training for yourself or your employees, even when there's no money for it. You need to get creative.

If You Are An Employee

No matter what the policies of your company, you are always going to be 100% responsible for being able to do your job.

If you need more knowledge or skills to be able to do your job, you have to make sure you get them. You can't wait for your employer to provide a training class or program. You have to get it yourself if your company doesn't provide it.

There are three quick ways you can get the training you need:

• you can find someone on the job who will mentor and coach you
• you can find free or low cost training on the internet
• you can get low-cost training from your local community college or from your city/county adult education program

And, remember, if you have the skills or knowledge someone else at work needs, you can become a trainer, coach or mentor for others. Teaching, training and coaching others builds your own skills and gives you an edge in getting promotions. What employer doesn't value the employee who helps others boost their performance and productivity?

If You Are A Manager

The good news is that on-the-job training programs are usually more effective than occasional classroom training. OJT with a supplement of more formal training, like classroom or web-based training seems to be the biggest winner of all.

If you have no training budget or an inadequate one, become a trainer.

Train-the-trainer programs do just what the name says: they train people in how to train others. If you take such a program yourself, you can be the trainer/coach for your employees. You can train them not only in the skills of the job, but also in how to become trainers/coaches themselves.

As a manager, if you take this route, you can circumvent company policies of not paying for employee training by paying for your own initial training yourself.

When you have a good training/coaching OJT going, you can learn to make your own more formal computer-based training programs (like pre-recorded webinars) and training manuals. Also, you can have regular employee meetings that you treat as short training sessions. That gives your employees a classroom-like training experience to add to the power of the one-on-one on-the-job training program.

Lest you think getting your own training on your own dime and sharing it is a new or radical idea, let me add that I've seen this done in various ways and participated in it from time to time since my earliest days of employment. I've seen it done by employees for other employees and by lower/middle level managers for their departments.

It's called leadership.

If You Are A Small Business Owner

So, you need your employees trained in the new software you've acquired for bookkeeping. Or you need to provide orientation for employees new to your workplace (or, perhaps, to any workplace.) Maybe you want to add a new line of products, but your employees don't have any experience with the tools, machinery or processes.

How do you get them trained without great expense or losing income, time, productivity?

Actually, you do something similar to what a manager without a training budget does. You get yourself trained to be a trainer/coach. Or one of your employees trained to be a trainer/coach. Then have him/her train your employees in what they need to know or in how to help each other learn the skills each has.

Many large organizations are going the route of developing employees as in-house trainers. It is a more effective process than outsourcing training and is certainly cost-effective. It's too bad that in so many organizations, individual managers have to lead the way by doing this on their own.

Unlike the manager in a larger organization, you are in charge of the organization. You can mandate training and coaching. Use your power to make your employees more effective.

Don't Wait. Training Is Time-Sensitive

Whether you are an employee, manager or small business owner, don't wait for someone else to give or get training where it's needed. Performance and productivity require it.


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