Training is something that I’m very passionate about. And you should be too. Unlike many management initiatives, the benefits of training are easy to explain for everyone involved:
- Improved performance – with proper training, an individual can do their job better. And that means the entire unit performs better.
- Team cohesion – going through any shared experience, especially a positive experience like training, brings people together. I’m not talking about ropes courses, but all types of training. I still talk about classes that I attended over 30 years ago.
- Professional development – we need to help our employees go further – in their current roles and their careers. And that goes for employees at all levels – from couriers and printer operators to senior executives. What we know helped get us to where we are – what we learn will bring us to where we want to go.
- Increased morale – when employees understand that management is willing to invest in them, morale improves. When employees are given the training to perform their jobs better, morale improves. When your shop is running smoothly, morale improves. Training is the cornerstone to all of this improvement.
What type of curriculum should you put together? The print and mail industry is in a period of significant change. At the same time, the basics of running a quality operation need to be reinforced. A comprehensive training program will cover key categories:
- Equipment/procedures – what are the standard operating procedures that are used in your shop? This type of training is important when rolling out new equipment, new software or new procedures. And refresher classes are important – especially to keep your cross-training program up to date.
- Professional certifications – There are professional associations and government agencies that offer certification and training certificates. This may range from safe driver programs, to Mailpiece Design Professionals, to Electronic Document Professionals, and Certified Mail and Distribution Systems Managers. Look for the right opportunities for you and your employees.
- Industry (news, technology, etc.) – along with postal regulations, there are many changes taking place in our industry - vendors merging, vendors splitting up, new technologies being introduced, and new ideas being presented. Help your employees stay current in the industry and share information. Consider scheduling a quarterly “Industry Roundup” class.
- Corporate subjects – almost every company has mandatory training around safety, security, human resources, privacy, etc. Work with your Human Resources department for a complete listing, then make sure your team takes advantage of the courses.
- Individual improvement – what else do you want to know? What do your employees want to learn? People who want to be supervisors and managers should take leadership classes before being promoted. Or, they may just want to improve their writing, speaking or other professional skills.
The method of providing the instruction isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, and there is no “best” type. Use the right format for the situation and the people involved. Sometimes, it may be several types of formats on the same subject. For example, when I was in the military, we would have regular weapons training. First, we attended classroom lessons with information about the weapons and their capabilities. Then, in smaller groups, we would have instructional training showing us how to use the weapon. Then, we would have one-on-one training with the weapons in actual use.
To be effective, training has to happen more than once. Organizations need to provide regular education on the most important aspects if the job. Dedicate time on the weekly calendar to classes. Just 30-minutes a week adds up to 26 hours of training a year – for all of your employees.
Training is important, but it doesn’t have to be dull and boring. Get excited about the topic being presented – including equipment operations and postal regulations (Yes! You should be excited about changes in the Domestic Mail Manual!). Use humor whenever possible to break up the monotony. Any jokes should be self-effacing and appropriate to the subject.
Managers have multiple resources, multiple formats and multiple opportunities to integrate training into their operation and their employees’ schedules. Yes, it will take effort. Yes, it will take time. Yes, it will take creativity. A well-designed, well- executed training program may not be easy to deliver.
But, a well-designed, well executed training program will deliver results for you, your team and your company.