Increasingly, the management of companies is resorting to “dotted” personnel training – they order suitable business training programs or language courses for a specific production task or project. But sometimes the number of trainees can reach thousands of people. What nuances of the educational process should be considered when making such a large-scale request?
See the goal
When faced with a large order, educational organizations first and foremost try to understand whether the customer has correctly formulated the training goal and whether the chosen program will implement the strategic plans of the client. “When a new project is scheduled to start in the company, the management faces the questions “who to teach?” and how to teach?” – says Elena Britvina, marketing manager of the company “5-55″. – There are three sides to answer these questions. First, the immediate head of the division, who knows his staff and the features of the task. Secondly, an HR-manager who defines the framework of the training budget and evaluates the efficiency of investing in the development of specific people. And, finally, representatives of the contractor organization act as arbitrators: they give recommendations on the optimal design of the training plan, make adjustments both in terms of audience composition and the set of skills to be trained”.
However, in practice, it is difficult to count on an ideal implementation of this scheme. “Very often we have to face the fact that the HR service and line managers have absolutely different ideas about what to teach the staff. Let’s say, the head of the department asks for a time management course on Outlook, and the HR-manager thinks that a basic course is enough without a software application,” says Gleb Arkhangelsky, CEO of Time Organization. – At the same time, an HR-specialist usually relies on the survey data and the employee’s development profile, while the immediate supervisor knows exactly what competencies are missing in the current work.
Pavel Lelyukh, Commercial Director of IT Expert, agrees with this opinion, emphasizing that when ordering training in highly specialized disciplines, it is functional managers who can most accurately formulate the task. They have a good understanding of the topic, know what problems should be solved in the course of training, and, above all, are able to assess the level of competence of the trainer. “From such regular corporate customers as Raiffeisen Bank, Russian Railways, SIBUR, URALSIB, and RAO UES, IT managers always communicate with us, with whom it is easy to have a constructive dialogue about the content of programmes and the conditions of their implementation,” says Mr Lelukh. On the contrary, for an HR manager, as a rule, these issues are not obvious, as they lie outside his area of responsibility. However, an employee of the HR Training and Development Department can provide professional assistance in preliminary selection of training companies and take on the coordination of training conditions with the selected provider. “At Vimpelcom we have established a productive cooperation with the Personnel Department,” shares Pavel Lelukh’s experience.
The assistance of the personnel department employees is indispensable in conducting an extensive survey, for example, in organizing language training, said Mikhail Gorelik, director of the St. Petersburg office of Runov School. After all, on the one hand, it is necessary to determine the level of each person’s English proficiency, and on the other hand, it is necessary to clearly indicate the tasks of different departments and, accordingly, the nature of the skills practiced. “As a rule, without a preliminary survey the company’s management forms the task in a very specialized and narrow way, – stresses Mr. Gorelik. – The heads of a large St. Petersburg casino asked us to teach their staff a standard set of phrases to serve visitors. As it turned out later, even a simple communication with foreign customers is impossible without a deep knowledge of the basics of the language. Representatives of the school must either convince the customer to conduct methodically correct training, or not to take the order at all, if it is obvious that the training will not achieve the goal of the company”.
And what in practice?
At the organization of large-scale training at the enterprise in a complex should be solved several problems at once. First, the listenership is defined. Secondly, for each specific group the corresponding training program is selected. Thirdly, the territorial, sectoral and other features of a particular company are taken into account.
According to Elena Britvina, corporate orders have both vertical orientation, when it is necessary to train employees from junior to senior levels in parallel, and horizontal orientation, when managers of the same level are trained, but in different divisions. For example, managers of marketing, financial, technical departments took part in the large-scale training for MTS company on conclusion of contracts for IT-service, both in Moscow and in ten regional centers. In total about 900 people were trained, and it took 2.5 months to prepare and conduct the project. “There are a number of complexities to consider when implementing complex projects. Firstly, it is the territorial distribution of participants, – says Elena Britvina. – Secondly, the management of the head office, which initiates such large-scale projects, does not always clearly convey their ideas to the direct participants of the training, so often on the first day of training people wonder why they were actually gathered. And, thirdly, sometimes the program written for the Moscow audience has to be modified for reading in the regions, which is due to some lag in the level of IT-knowledge of field employees.
Training for Sberbank employees on the new standard in the provision of IT services – ISO-20000 – was conducted by IT Expert. “There was no suitable training programme in this area on the market, so we developed a customised programme specifically for the SB RF. Hundreds of people in Moscow and the regions have already been trained,” says Pavel Lelyukh. The usual training group consists of 15-20 people. That’s why regional clients are interested in conducting trainings on site, with the capital’s coach leaving for the region. “Since 2005, the number of regional orders for corporate training has increased dramatically, many of which. come from former CIS countries, in particular Ukraine and Kazakhstan,” says Mr. Lelukh.
According to Gleb Arkhangelsky, about 80% of orders received by the company “Organization of Time”, just projects of parallel training of “top” and middle managers. Situations when representatives of different divisions meet at the training are rare, but give their advantages. Thus, in Comstar representatives of the technical service and commercial department were trained in time management together, which allowed eliminating many time inconsistencies that appeared earlier in the production process. “When developing the program for PricewaterhouseCoopers, we took into account the professional specifics of the auditors: project work, frequent business trips, delegation of authority to assistants,” says Gleb Arkhangelsky. – In total, we trained 8 streams in 5 groups each. For such projects, powerful preliminary diagnostics are carried out, and typical production cases are included in the program. Of course, such training costs more than standard training”.
For a language school, the development and professional adaptation of the program for 150 people is a major project. Thus, Runov School continues to cooperate with the construction company “Mostootryad No. 19”. The main direction of work was teaching the general structure of the English language, because during the survey it turned out that most specialists already have a good command of specialized terminology, but can not use it in spoken and written speech.
According to Gleb Arkhangelsky’s observations, today more and more orders are received not only from large, but also from medium-sized businesses. And these clients are not so demanding to customize their programs because they try to master basic skills. In the field of language training, Mikhail Gorelik also notes the desire of companies to improve the general level of English of all employees, rather than an in-depth study of professional terms.
According to Elena Britvina, corporate clients are becoming more demanding, they have a better understanding of the purpose and methodology of business training. “The managers started to understand that for the project to be successful, first of all, it is necessary to train the project working group so that its participants speak the same language and understand the common task”, – she says. For more detailed “sharpening” of the program to meet the needs of the customer, the company offers fundamentally new approaches to training. For example, a new product is the Workshop Workshop, where training participants do not just learn a new skill, but work together to develop a plan of further actions at the enterprise. Then training becomes a logical part of the business process.