5 tips to efficiently train your IT teams

It is often quite a challenge for companies to attract and keep people with the right expertise in their teams. This is certainly the case when it comes to IT teams, since technology is constantly changing and innovating. Training your technical employees has become a must in modern-day society, and is critical for the success of your company.

Why is training your employees a must? Well, for a number of reasons.

  • Training improves your employees’ performance, and therefore also their productivity. Studies show that training boosts employee performance. That’s quite logical: a good training hands your employees the right knowledge and tools to work smarter and more efficiently. This improves their work performance, making them more productive. Next to that, it’s important for technical employees to keep up with the latest updates in tools and technologies to stay productive.
  • Your employees will be more satisfied and engaged. study from Boston Consulting Group shows that learning and career development is sixth in the top 10 of factors that drive employee happiness. By setting aside a budget for training and personal development, you show your employees that you value them, making them feel more appreciated and emotionally invested in your company.

Source: BCG — The Network proprietary web survey and analysis (2014)

  • Training improves employee retention. The results from a survey conducted by LinkedIn Learning show that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invests in their career development. This is especially true for millennials. Keep in mind that by 2025, millennials will make up about 75% of the workforce. Offering training on a regular basis is vital to keep (young) talent within your company.
  • You may see a boost in innovation. Your employees might gain new ideas after a learning trajectory, or they may just experience a boost in creativity. This may result in innovative ideas that benefit your company.
  • It will make your customers happy. Skilled, creative and happy employees are productive team members who will be happy to go the extra mile for your customer. A win-win situation!

Now you know that training your employees is important for several reasons, maybe you’re wondering how you can create an efficient and consistent training programme. How do you know which training fits your employees? There are so many tools and technologies out there, how do you know which ones your employees need to be trained in? Which training format do I choose? And how do I choose the right training partner? In this article, we’ll list five tips to keep in mind while setting up a training programme for your technical employees.

1. Define your company’s training needs.

Start with defining your organisational goals, strategies and objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? Which goals do you want to reach by the end of the year? What is slowing you down or preventing you from reaching your goals?

Once you mapped out your organisation’s goals, you can take a look at the knowledge and expertise your employees already have, and the skills you would like them to have. Which skills do your employees still lack? Are there any knowledge gaps that cause your employees to be less productive? Maybe certain knowledge is already present in parts of your organisation, but you’d like other IT teams to have the same skills?

Once you have an idea of the knowledge gaps within your organisation, also ask your employees if they feel like they lack any vital knowledge and/or skills. Maybe they have been struggling with a certain tool or technology for a while, while you didn’t realize there was a problem. An employee survey will give you valuable insights in your employees’ training needs. Don’t forget to take your employees’ personal goals and personal development in mind as well, as this is vital for employee satisfaction.

Based on your analysis, decide on a set of skills that you want your team members to have after completing the training. Research training courses to upskill your employees that suit both organisational and personal needs.

If you don’t have the time or knowledge to do this analysis yourself, you can always rely on your HR department or an experienced training partner to define your employees’ training needs for you. You can read more about how The Campus can help identify the knowledge gaps and training needs in your organisation here.

2. Create a training plan.

Create a training plan based on the training needs you defined in the previous step. Make sure to personalize the training experience for every employee as much as possible, so it addresses their specific needs.

It’s a good idea to divide your IT department into groups of people with similar needs and to personalize the training experience for each group, rather than forcing your whole IT department through the same generic learning path. If your team doesn’t think that your training programme is useful to them, they will lose interest and will be less likely to improve the skills you want them to work on.

Keep in mind that certain training courses require prerequisites that you might need to address as well. For example, if you want to train your employees in a certain field of Machine Learning, they might benefit from a training on the Python programming language first, depending on their prior knowledge of the language.

But creating a training plan is not only about picking the right subjects. It is also about providing the right training format. Would your employees benefit more from a classic classroom training, or a practical workshop? Or maybe you’d like to save your employees some time and go for a (live) online training or an e-learning that they can do at home? We wrote an article on the different types of training and their advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision about the training format.

Keep in mind that creating a training plan is no exact science. There is no right or wrong way to do it. The rule of thumb is that a good training plan should provide employees with knowledge that helps you reach your organisational goals, while also addressing their personal objectives..

Next to that, adding a creative twist to your training plan might give your employees an extra motivation boost. Maybe there’s an interesting conference or event you can send your employees to? Or an interesting webinar they can attend? Don’t hesitate to add those items to the training plan as well!

3. Set clear training goals

It’s crucial to set up clear objectives for every step of your training plan. This is important because:

  • It helps you evaluate your training plan. Having a clear objective in mind helps you tailor the training plan in order to reach your goals. Maybe you’ll realize that there’s an important step missing, or that you don’t need a certain component after all.
  • It gives your employees clarity. Sharing the training objectives with your employees gives them a good idea of the purpose of the training. They will be more aware of the knowledge and skills they should be gaining while attending the course.

A good way to set clear objectives is to use the principle of SMART goals. You can define a SMART goal for your training plan as follows:

  • Specific: define the topic (e.g. Python) and the format (classroom, live online, e-learning etc.) of the course
  • Measurable: individual assessments, for example a test at the end of a training, or an exam employees have to take to receive a certification
  • Achievable: the course should keep the employees’ prior knowledge in mind, and should not be too demanding
  • Relevant: the course should be applicable to the training needs you have identified
  • Time-based: set a deadline for training completion

Of course, there are many other ways to set your training goals, such as the HARD method and the WOOP method, for example. Choose the method you feel most comfortable with.

Defining the training goals is only half the work, though. Make sure to write your goals down to remind you and your team what you are working towards. Check in with your goals regularly to ensure your team is still on the right track, and that the selected courses are still relevant to your goals. And last but not least: celebrate your wins! Celebrating your employees’ new certifications after an intensive training trajectory can be a real motivation boost.

4. Choose the right training partner

Just like creating a training plan, picking the right partner to deliver a training is no exact science. What we can do though, is give you a few tips to keep at the back of your mind while choosing a training partner.

  • Whether a certain partner is suitable or not, partially depends on the desired training format. If you’d like to offer your employees an extensive e-learning module, it makes sense to look for a partner specialised in e-learning. If you prefer classroom training, look for a training partner that offers live training in your region. If you’re not entirely sure about the format yet, you can look for a training partner willing to give advice on finding the right training format.
  • Pick a training partner that works with experts rather than full-time trainers. Full-time trainers have been trained to teach the course material and are qualified to do so, but they don’t have real-life experience with the material. The Campus works with IT professionals who are still active in the field, which has several advantages for our students.
  • When in doubt, pick the partner that you feel most comfortable with. Open and clear communication, consistent feedback and mutual respect are all signs of a trustworthy training partner.

5. Follow-up and evaluation

Your work isn’t done when your employees finish their training trajectory or obtain the desired certification. Now it’s time to evaluate if the training paid off.

Take a look at the (SMART) goals you wrote down during step 3. Did your employees reach the training goals you set? Are your employees able to apply what they have learned in practice? And does this help make your employees more productive?

This will give you a good idea if the training plan was effective or not. If you see some points that need extra attention, contact your training partner to see if any extra (personal) coaching or training is needed.

It’s also important to know if your employees were satisfied with the training. Did the instructor present the material in a clear way? Did the instructor have good knowledge of the subject, and were they able to give real-life examples? Do your employees find the knowledge they gained useful?

Those are important questions to follow up on. You can ask these questions yourself, either in-person or via a survey, but some training providers will do this for you (The Campus does this too!). They send a survey to their trainees asking for feedback, and will report the results to you. Make sure to read through the results carefully to see if your employees were satisfied with the training. If not, report back to your training partner to work out a solution with you.

The Campus wants to empower IT professionals by helping them develop and expand their technical skills, so they’re ready to take the next step in their professional journey. That’s why we offer state-of-the-art training courses on relevant and innovative technologies, delivered by experienced IT consultants who are also seasoned trainers.

The Campus can assist you in developing educationally responsible training trajectories for your technical employees. Our in-company training courses can be fully customized and adapted to your specific training needs. We’ll also take care of all the practical details for you, such as booking training rooms and handling all communication with students.

If you’re interested in working with us to reskill or upskill your employees, fill out our contact form. We’ll contact you asap to see how we can assist!

The Campus, Charlotte Van Rompaey 30 September, 2020
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