Do You Have A Training Strategy for your NonProfit?

Training is more than offering a bunch of courses.  I have worked with a number of organizations that develop a training budget in January and then in September are in a panic to get it spent by year’s end.  Results are usually mixed because there are no clear objectives as to how or what this training is going to do to further the interests of the organization. Employees may have appreciated attending the training sessions but no one is asking the bigger question: “what value has this training provided to your organization?”  

Before slipping a number into your budget that you think will meet the need, I suggest that you develop a strategy .  Then cost it out in terms of the training delivery cost and more importantly the cost of having your employees off work to attend the training.  Your executive team is more likely to support your strategy when they understand how it positively contributes to and impacts the organization.

As the person in charge of the training portfolio you will have to do your research.  Carefully review the upcoming year’s strategic plan to suss out whether there are any major change initiatives being planned that will require skill development or change management.  The cost of a major change whether it be restructuring, retooling or new systems implementation will greatly overshadow the cost of effective training.  And a training strategy linked to this change initiative will be easier to sell to those who hold the company’s purse strings.

Your research should also include reviewing the 3rd quarter performance management results to search for common gaps and deficiencies in performance.  Come up with a training solution and add it to your training strategy.

And don’t forget to check out the climate (employee satisfaction) survey where you will often find useful data on the shortcomings of your organization’s collective leadership.  Identify training solutions to coach your supervisors, managers and directors to create a more hospitable work environment where employees become inspired to deliver higher levels of service.  These surveys can also identify common communication gaps that are causing unrest among the employees.

Finally determine what training you are equipped to deliver in-house and what will have to be farmed out to external vendors. Is there an opportunity to train internal champions and experts to become effective facilitators particularly for skill development?  Is it time to develop a formal mentorship program to share knowledge internally?

These days classroom training is being partnered with eLearning and online learning to create a blended approach to make learning more accessible and in many cases more affordable.  But initially, setting up a learning management system can be expensive and require new staffing resources.  Is this something that should become part of a multiyear strategic plan for you?  Online learning is a great way to provide policy and procedure training and does not need a sophisticated learning management system so it is often a good place to start.  Then you can add complexity each year as these new delivery systems prove themselves.  This is especially a great sell if your organization works from multiple locations.

Talk to your senior leaders. Set up a meeting with each of them individually and  share with them what your research has revealed.  Find out if they have needs unique to their Divisions. Ask for their support in getting the budget for your strategy.  If you’ve done your homework they will listen.