With more than 25 years of experience in curriculum development and training, Mary T. McKinney serves as the director of Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center and its Center for International and Regulatory Affairs. Combined, the centers conduct more than 100 training events annually, including two large conferences. McKinney has a Ph.D. in public administration.
Q. How can companies determine what training to provide employees?
You have to look at your own company’s needs and assess the various areas of importance in the changing world. For sure, customer service is first and foremost. Oftentimes even though we like to say it’s important, sometimes companies just put it on the back burner. So, how can you, within your resources, train people to make customers more comfortable when they’re interacting with you and you want them to come back? If you deal with customers on a regular basis, that should probably be first and foremost.
Q. How can companies monitor training results?
That’s a toughie that people avoid. It happens at a lot of levels. The obvious way when we all go to a program is to do a survey at the end of the program ‘How effective was this speaker, how would you rate the material, did it live up to your expectations?’ Moving up the line, ‘How is it really impacting job performance?’ It’s a little easier to determine if the training on ABC worked because if everybody comes back and they know how to use ABC and you have minimal adjustment problems, obviously the training was effective. Maybe that’s why companies prefer, oftentimes, to spend money on training like that because the results are more easily (visible).
Q. What is the importance of training employees in this economy?
When you observe history, oftentimes recessions were the time when people went against the grain [and] they had tremendous results. Things like training and marketing are oftentimes the ones that get cut. I think that the human resources of an organization are its major asset, and when you continue to have your staff grow and develop, your company is going to perform better.