Jumpstarting Process Improvement in Your Organization: The Top 10 Essentials (Part 7 of 10) – The Importance of Training

Essential #7:  A well-funded training budget.  The often-neglected secret to creating a culture of continuous improvement is establishing a common language.  This common language connects and unites top management to front line staff.  In the area of process improvement, a common language is a cornerstone for all future breakthroughs.  So, how does that language get collectively learned?  Training.  Here are three training ideas for your consideration.

  1. Make training mandatory for all employees.  Even if each employee only receives the one-hour overview training, it’s time and money well spent.  The topic of process improvement resonates with all levels of the organization.  Everyone wants to be a part of finding new and better ways of doing his or her job.  This type of overview training gives everyone permission to think outside of their box and begins to include them in the process improvement effort.
  2. Training the trainer is a good approach, but not optimal.  Many organizations opt for the “train the trainer” approach – formally train one person who then trains the rest of the organization.  This approach is good for communicating facts, but does not have the benefit of being able to relay the practical nuances that a professional trainer can deliver.  A better approach is to offer level-specific training throughout the organization.  For example, everyone gets the one-hour overview.  Executives may get a three-hour deployment overview.  Managers and directors get 8 to 16 hours of training.  This staged approach ensures the same message is being communicated appropriately and consistently throughout the organization.
  3. Continue to allow the specialist(s) to train.  Even experts need to be pushed and training pushes them.  It is very common for the specialist to become an expert and thereby become very comfortable in being an expert.  Once this happens, the specialist has lost some of his or her effectiveness.  Continuing education pushes the specialist into becoming more well-rounded, more highly-motivated, and more effective in leading the organization.

Unfortunately, training dollars are often the first to get cut.  In tough times, it is easy to sacrifice or delay training for the immediate needs of the organization.  I can’t argue with this logic entirely.   However, there are creative and innovative ways to continue process improvement related training within the organization for pennies on the dollar.  Internal training programs, state-sponsored workforce development offerings, or local community college instructors are often more affordable avenues to provide training to your employees.

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