Cultivating curiosity: continuous improvement in training management

Many businesses make the mistake of approaching training as a one-time or ad hoc responsibility: employees are trained when they are hired and rarely, if ever, retrained or trained for new competencies.
Businesses cannot adequately embrace the much sought-after ideal of continual improvement until they incorporate continuous training into their business models.

It is essential to establish a training program that helps every employee realize their potential, and in turn helps the business realize its potential. Such programs should be constantly revisited and always altered due to employee, manager and customer feedback. It should be a continuous process.

One aspect of continuous training should be a program that regularly schedules learning sessions with employees to build, develop and diversify their skills and knowhow as they grow with the company.

No discussion of continuous improvement would be complete without reference to W. Edward Deming, the man responsible for quality control and its most critical mechanism, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle or Deming cycle. Not only can the Deming cycle be applied to training and training management programs to mitigate negative impacts on quality; the famous statistician’s focus on curbing the role of checklists and giving all employees a sense of meaning behind their responsibilities can be applied to achieve integrated training.

It’s the cultivation of the “curious” side of an employee, and it is achieved by using Deming’s model to get employees to think beyond their immediate jobs. For example, if you’re operating a press, you probably retain a lot of knowhow beyond just press operation. That is, you probably have a better sense of how to better the quality of a product or the experience of a customer.

But it can be very difficult – in large organizations, especially – to incorporate continuous improvement into training programs without the right tools to streamline training management and ensure employee competence.

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