Sooner or later, competence development will be on the agenda in an organisation, as it is important to train and upgrade the employees so that they can also master their work in line with the development or as a consequence of organisational changes. An important prerequisite for job satisfaction, well-being and the bottom line.
We find that many managers and executives invest in upgrading and competence boosts without knowing whether they are really getting value for money. Whether employees are really becoming more proficient by attending a specific course.
To address this issue, it is recommended that the manager and the employee evaluate training and courses. Did it meet expectations, and did it provide the employee with the expected competence boost? If not, you might want to look into the market for alternatives and ensure that other employees do not participate in the same course. It is important to turn individual knowledge into collective knowledge so that the same mistakes are not made again the next time upgrading is needed.
It is one thing to choose the right courses for competence development. It is something else to make the most of what was chosen. According to Robert Brinkerhoff – the man behind the popular 40-20-40 model for ensuring the desired outcome – the competence development process consists of three phases: Before, during and after. If a competency development program fails, so that you do not get the most out of the course/training, it is due to a lack of action in the different stages.
The reasons (100 per cent) are distributed as follows:
- 40 per cent (before)
- 20 per cent (during)
- 40 per cent (after)
We may have a tendency to blame the program itself if it does not yield the right outcome. But perhaps it isn't the program itself that is at fault. Perhaps the culprit is rather a lack of preparation or follow-up/implementation.
Below we list the three stages and what you can do in relation to each of them.
Before: Thorough clarification of competences (40 per cent)
Even before deciding whether an employee should be granted a specific course, a basic analysis has to be performed.
1) What are our needs in relation to the competence development program?
Has an employee left the company and thus left a skill gap to be covered by another employee? Or has the organisation evolved within the industry, so there is a need for brand new skills? Write all the wishes for the competence boost on a list.
2) What opportunities are available in the market to meet those needs?
After that, you must examine which courses cover your needs for competence development. How many of your needs are addressed by each of the various courses? How is the relationship between prices and expected yield, and what is the time frame? All of this is something that needs to be taken into account.
3) When is it a success?
And then, expectations need to be matched with regards to the outcome and effect which the course/training should have in the organisation. What are the specific success criteria? How should the upgraded competences be used in the organisation afterwards? And are there any barriers that could stand in the way of a successful implementation?
It is extremely important to take this part of the work seriously, as there are great benefits to be gained by qualifying the competence boost - both financially speaking and when it comes to the competencies themselves. In addition, as a manager, you must also involve the employee, who is to participate in the course, in this process, so that he or she gets a sense of ownership of the decisions and buys into the expectations.
During: Execution (20 per cent)
During training or a course, it is important that the participants have the objectives and success criteria in mind. Therefore, the manager should be in contact with the employee on an ongoing basis to ensure the desired outcome from the effort. If there is something that needs to be adjusted along the way, you can intervene immediately.
We recommend 2-3 planned dialogues between manager and employee during the course. During these discussions, the focus is on whether the training course meets the criteria defined during the preparatory phase. Furthermore, the anticipation of the employee's return to the organisation with the newly acquired/updated knowledge begins. So even at this point, thoughts should be made about how to use this knowledge in the company.
Some of the questions you can usefully ask are:
- How is the course going?
- What are you most satisfied with?
- What could be better?
- Where do you see opportunities to improve our relationship with you during the course?
- Where do you think we should first apply your new knowledge in our organisation?
After: Follow-up and implementation (40 per cent)
As soon as the employee is back from the course, a very specific implementation plan is made. A plan to ensure that the new knowledge and skills are actually coming into play in the daily work.
The contents of such a plan could look like this:
1) Evaluation of the competence development course itself
Find the list of wishes for the competence boost and the success criteria and review them in relation to the actual course. Did it actually live up to expectations? Have we had value for money so far?
2) Action plan to translate knowledge into practice in the department
- What should the employee do?
- What should the co-workers do?
- What should the manager do?
It is important to set some very concrete and measurable goals so that in a later evaluation, it is easy to assess whether you have actually had value for your money.
3) Follow-up evaluation
Subsequently, it is a good idea to follow up at least twice. Have we succeeded in implementing the competences? Have we reached our goal and experienced success?
In Musskema.dk, you can manage your competency courses in the 'Competence Development' module. The module has been developed according to Brinkerhoff's 40-20-40 model and therefore proposes dialogues in the stages before, during and after. Minutes and agreements are stored in the system, so it's easy to find them, and reminders are sent before deadlines.
All modules are part of the standard package and therefore do not cost extra.