BizGlobeOnPieChartThe big financial news last week was the addition of 157K new jobs in the month of June.  The financial pundits are now saying that the job growth – primarily driven by the service sector, which produced 130K of the reported new jobs last month – is an indication that the recovery has regained its footing.  As I listened to the experts, the story became clearer to me, and I think they are right.  The “soft patch” that we experienced here in the United States this spring was really the result of a couple of different phenomena.  Specifically:

  • Oil prices peaking near $115 a barrel in the spring, driving gasoline prices over $4.00 a gallon across the U.S. have since retreated by nearly 20% to the low/mid $90 range with gasoline prices dropping proportionately. 
  • Supply chain disruptions caused by the earthquake in Japan in March.
  • Concerns over the economic stability in Europe, while not completely alleviated are dramatically reduced today from the levels of this past spring.

The other interesting comment (made by Warren Buffet no less) was that the unemployment level in the U.S. is being held up by the lost construction jobs, and until housing rebounds, these jobs won’t return.

So what does all this have to do with training?  A lot.  Many companies in the service sector today employ more people than they did 18 months ago.  That means more new employees needing training.  Also, as employment in the service sector continues to lead the recovery, there will undoubtedly be “job movement” created (where people move from one job to another for advancement, etc.).  All this new hiring and job change means one thing – lots of new people who need to develop a level of mastery in their new duties!

In the current economic environment, it’s difficult to not just throw team members into the fray and rely on the old OJT – On the Job Training.  But let’s face it, personally - has that ever worked for you?  The key is to audit your current training and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you’ve got the most efficient and effective educational experiences available to new hires, transfers and promotions – helping them compress the time to mastery of the new skills that will make them successful in your organization.  Think AAA – Audit, Adjust, and Assessments.

  1. Audit – take inventory of your current training programs and manuals.  Dust them off and give them a critical review.  Are the processes and procedures the same today as when the material was created?  Have your logos changed?  Terminology?  Does the training tie to your organization's vision, mission or values?  Did the material create the behaviors you wanted? 
  2. Adjust – making the necessary updates to the material is your next step.  Establish clearly defined learning objectives and determine the best platform to deliver the training.  What type of knowledge are you trying to transfer to your team - facts, concepts, processes, principles or procedures?  A mixture of all five?  What is the best method to transfer this knowledge, ensure it is retained, and, ultimately, change behavior?  Can you migrate portions of classroom content to an online eLearning platform?
  3. Assessments – metrics are the key to business.  If you can’t count it, it doesn’t count.  How many hours will creation/modification of your training programs take?  How much will you need to invest and what will be the finished product? How many hours of instructional design/development does it take to create 30 minutes of eLearning or 4 hours in the classroom?  How will you know that the learning objectives have been achieved?  How will you measure changes in behavior?  Most importantly – how will you measure the ROI of your efforts?

If the financial pundits are right and the recovery has regained its footing … we’re headed for a second leg up!  Sure, this second leg will likely be a slower one than the initial days of the recovery, but we’re starting from a better place this time.  Today, we can be much more confident that there won’t be a “double dip.”  Today, savvy leaders know it’s time to reinvest in their greatest asset – their people.  Begin that investment the AAA way…today. 

Until next time remember, take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself.

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