3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009

Tom McGuire is a program director in the Business and Management Department at UC Berkeley Extension, the continuing education arm of the University of California, Berkeley. Along with the human resources and training and development portfolio, McGuire also manages programs in marketing, leadership and management, law and paralegal studies, business communication, entrepreneurship, and corporate training contracts.

Q. Are there ways to trim your budget but still offer effective training?

There’s a wealth of online resources. People can go online and find tons of knowledge-based training through the online environment, and a lot of that is free. Some companies also are beginning to use the whole social network phenomenon and podcasting to share knowledge to create communities that way. Some of the best training comes from the managers themselves, and there is this whole trend toward creating what is known as a network of learners in the company, where employees all come together to share their best practices. So these are cost-effective or cost-free ways to effectively train employees.

Q. How can companies determine effective training techniques to maximize their spending?

They really have to keep training real and relevant to the employees’ needs. That’s one way because people learn most quickly and the best through their own experiences on the job. So a company has to take an accurate pulse from the managers and the employees, and they have to figure out if their training really is helping serve clients better.

Q. How do you make training relevant?

Every company should have a performance analysis system in place where they’re able to gauge the employee’s progress and productivity and whether or not they adapted to their new role and/or the mandate to increase productivity or improve their performance. Also, what companies are doing is they’re using sort of internal brown-bag sessions or internal user groups across business. Basically, it just provides an opportunity for members to share what they’ve learned and brainstorm. Tapping into those sessions helps the company add to (its) whole learning library and its knowledge base.