There’s an old saying from years ago that I’ve held onto to this very day. I call it one of my “Valisms,” and I’m pretty sure it came from an Erma Bombeck book from many decades ago:
I’ve become used to accomplishing so much with so little on a tight deadline that I can make just about anything out of nothing in no time flat.
I’ve been a corporate trainer and instructional designer for 20 years. During my career of two decades, I was usually a dovetail of another department. I was an asterisk or a side-hustle dipping into their training budget dedicated to something else. I was as frugal as ever knowing I was my only resource, and I wandered the globe armed with a laptop and projector.
Only once was I on salary with a formal training team. I remember the joy I felt to be surrounded by “my people.” Oh, the things we could do! But being on that team wasn’t as different as I dreamed. We had people to split the work but still had a very tight budget for other resources.
So how do you produce world-class employee training when you represent an asterisk to the budget? Without further ado, here are six simple ways to manage your priorities with limited training resources.
1. Understand the Training Needs vs. the Wants
I’ve had the pleasure of launching training programs for two different companies that never had one before. Word spreads around like wildfire, and suddenly, you have a swarm of BFFs and everyone wants training for their team. As a team of one and even as a group of four, we always had our hands full with a waiting list in the wings.
When you’re doing a needs analysis for an organization, start with the pain points. These are the current skill and/or knowledge gaps that need to be corrected or enhanced. If it’s a correction that will have a direct impact on the bottom line, I put those up at a higher priority than professional development.
You get bonus points if you can obtain measurements of that performance so you can document the improvement after your training program has been implemented. If you’re the new kid trying to prove yourself, measurable results will make you a rock star in no time. Challenge team managers to give you numbers for performance. Take measurements before training, then again about 60 days after training to compare results. The type of measurement depends on the need. Some examples might be the speed of tasks, rate of accuracy, customer review scoring, and many different service level agreements (SLAs) — you get the idea. Showing improvement to your base measures is easily computed into dollars, hard or soft, and assesses a real value for your training.
2. Love Your LMS
Get to know your LMS (learning management system) preloaded course topics intimately. Your best answer is, “Yeah, we have something for that!” Try making assignments with the LMS or plan for a method of recordkeeping so you can report back to the leadership about the courses you recommended. Partner with a training vendor to create some customized content for web-based training to add to your LMS.
3. Compile a Training Wish List
As people stop by your desk or email you with their training wishes, keep a record of everything. Categorize them by subject so you know how many are asking for the same topic. This list helps to prioritize future development topics. If one training course benefits several groups, it becomes a worthwhile effort and a higher priority.
If you still find yourself spreading thin, try splitting the load with an outsource training vendor. We can translate your wish list into instructionally sound, quality-assured content. If you need help delivering the content, we also have facilitators and additional on-demand training talent that can jump in when you need us. (Consider our Innovators on Demand® your secret weapon!)
4. Make Friends with Your IT Department
IT has all of the goodies, and the right sweet talk (homemade cookies were my trick) can get you keys to their kingdom. They can help you create a dedicated space on the network specifically for training. If you have SharePoint, it can be your all-in-one training, news, scheduling, and material depot. You can segregate groups to specific modules, too. Other platforms can do the same and more, but it all starts with a conversation.
5. Maximize Minimum Resources
A huge lesson I learned is that you don’t have to spend big money to create a massive impact.
Let’s start with free image sites. Instead of using Google images and saying a silent prayer that nobody rats you out for using someone else’s imagery, or hoping everyone ignores that faint watermark on your training material, there is a fantastic selection of royalty-free imagery at your fingertips!
When it comes to surveys, Survey Monkey and Typeform are helpful free resources as an alternative to smile sheets. Surveys can be simple or as robust as a 360 review. They also provide comparative metrics so you can see your trending answers.
Embrace Existing Content
Microsoft Office® is so much more than letters and slide decks. Many have yet to scratch the surface of the possibilities. PowerPoint® can pose as interactive eLearning or a powerful online guidebook. Check out this article for a perfect example of what you can create!
6. Tap Into Our Training Resources
As a staff augmentation resource, our Innovators on Demand® are right there when you need them as a means to scale your team on a budget. Our innovation-ready training talent have the experience you need and the flexibility to jump in and get started.