No matter how much you understand the value of training, one fact remains: the time spent in training is time spent away from being productive. Human Resources may encourage training, but you should produce and sell to keep the doors open.
That doesn’t mean you need to avoid training, but it does mean you need to make your training count so it won’t have to be repeated. The repeated training uses up valuable production time just to reach the competence you were aiming for in the first place.
Think about some of the reasons your training may not be effective:
If you are just “going over” material and everyone is daydreaming, how can you be sure they have learned it?
While self-paced videos offer convenience, you can’t be sure the learner even watched the video, much less absorbed the content.
There’s an old saying in training: “Just because you covered it doesn’t mean you taught it.” If the presentation is disorganized or confusing, even engaged learners may not understand the information.
How can you combat poor training results? The answer is simple: ask Human Resources to require certification. You don’t have to use official certification from your industry or any agency. You can create a company certification.
The process for creating your own certification program is quite simple. You give tests at the end of every learning module and require a passing score for the employee to have clearance to perform specific tasks.
To give a few examples, you could require certification for taking inventory, checking in shipments, balancing cash drawers, fulfilling internet orders, following fire safety procedures and resolving customer complaints.
You can issue actual certificates and keep a copy in employee files, or you can create digital records. Either way, you will know the training outcomes for each employee. If anyone consistently fails to get certified, you may have to make a tough decision about whether to keep that employee. On the other hand, at promotion or raise time, Human Resources will have a solid record of each employee’s knowledge growth you can base your decisions on.
There are some other surprising benefits to using certification in your training:
You can’t test vague notions and fuzzy concepts. You must provide concrete learning objectives so that your certification test can ask specific questions. This improves your training by focusing it on measurable knowledge.
If everybody fails your certification exam, either something is wrong with your training or your test. On the other hand, if you find some people struggle with certain concepts, you may determine that those concepts require a separate training module for more in-depth treatment. And what if everyone passes? Congratulate yourself on a job well done.
If you make certification an annual requirement, you can add information to cover problem areas you have noticed among your employees. In other words, annual certification reminds you to reassess what you are teaching and improve it.
For example, if you have offered fire safety and someone causes a fire, you can show your insurance company your training and certification process as a way of proving you are not careless. Even without a mishap, your training could reduce your insurance rate. Similar benefits apply to OSHA violations. You can show good faith efforts to teach safety practices.
To give another example, certified training can back up your claims that you strive to offer excellent customer service, the best product or service quality, or even that you encourage technical proficiency through technical training programs. These can become part of your branding efforts. In short, let your customers know you are serious enough about training to require certification so you can provide the best product or service.
And don’t forget the obvious benefit of certified training. Things run better. You should see a difference in your essential point through fewer mistakes, reduced customer problems, less inventory shrinkage, or simply more time to do things right instead of doing things over.
You will also have a more cohesive group of employees. Certification will let your employees know you are dedicated to having a knowledgeable workforce that performs efficiently and understands your company goals.
You can start your certification program be creating tests for existing training. Going forward, when you create new training, you can attach an exam at the end.
Before you start a certification program, ask Human Resources to make your employees aware of your intentions. It is best not to be intimidating. Avoid suggesting that their jobs are on the line. Focus instead on helping them become the best employees they can be, and point out that certification is one way to do that.
Once you implement a certification program, track your costs related to mistakes and oversights. This will show you the dollar value of getting serious about your training programs by requiring certification.