What’s Your Training Plan?

By Tom Dougherty

In today’s world of technology and self-help resources, we often find ourselves in an environment where we constantly share information via email, text, or social media.  This continuous real-time conversation is great to spread knowledge quickly, however, often it is one dimensional, in that there is not much feedback as to if the information is understood or being acted upon. 

My favorite learning opportunity from my experience in the Energy industry is when an existing team, that is already successful in serving customers in one or more markets, initiates a new market entry or expansion project.  Typically, we would bring together a cross functional team to bring them up to speed on the new market requirements.  When we conducted the gap analysis between the markets, a funny thing tended to happen.  Not only did we discover misunderstandings about the new market, but within all of the current processes as well.  Conversation and disagreements ensued, creating a great opportunity for idea exchange on processes improvement and the re-enforcement of the current processes and procedures.

How often do you as an organization or operational team, get together and review your procedures and upcoming changes to your industry, with emphasis not only on the responsibilities of each person but how the team interacts with each other?  Is there a common understanding of the objectives across the team?   Formal training provides an essential opportunity to test for this common understanding and for team members to question practices and suggest or discover areas for improvement.  

So, when should you schedule formal training?  Here are few suggestions:

Perhaps you have been painstakingly awaiting a long-promised addition to your staff, but did not have the funding in this year’s budget?   Maybe you need to bring on an experienced technical resource that has only ever worked in Banking or Healthcare, and needs to come up to speed quickly on Energy Industry jargon and practices to fully participate in a new project.  Or, planning ahead, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get one of those new college hires in a few months to help fill out your team and accomplish your 2018 goals.  Whatever the situation for your new hires, initially you are going to need to invest considerable amounts of your precious time indoctrinating the new recruits before you gain any benefits.  Consider giving them a good start with some structured Industry training.

Get into a habit of regularly scheduled review sessions that look at the essential operations of your business and let the experienced people answer questions for the new members that are trying to digest many things that veterans may take for granted and think everyone knows.  Let the new resources use their skills and energy to suggest new ways to accomplish goals, perhaps with new technology or skills they are bringing to the table.  Get an unbiased facilitator knowledgeable in your markets and see where the conversation can take you!

Happy New Year!

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Tom Dougherty is the owner of MarketWISE