4.4. 4. Training
If I were asked to pinpoint two of the most critical factors in achieving a successful process program, I'd cite executive commitment and training Not one after another, but both together. I see them as being equally crucial.
Chapter 3 looked at the importance of training when it comes to establishing your process program. There it is essential, because it preps your people to begin using the program effectively. But training should become an ongoing and permanent part of your program, just as improvement is.
Naturally your program is going to evolve over time. So the best way to have a better program is to have better people. Such an ongoing commitment to training works best when it takes on a two-dimensional shape.
The first is focused on growth. This includes the growth of your program, the growth of your people, and the growth of your business. Training addresses all of these. As a manager, in addition to all your other duties, you are the caretaker of your people. Like a football coach, you should want to turn them into the best players they can be. And so it's good practice to seek and support their personal career goals in ways that line up with the mission of the business.
This area can include professional training and often includes training that is not directly relevant to the process program. For example, you may have some network people in your group who would like to obtain Cisco CCNA certification. You might have programmers on staff who want to obtain MCSD certification. These paths are designed to help produce better network analysts and better programmers.
If parts of your business objectives are to improve network efficiency or to program .NET more effectively, then this form of growth training will bring advanced knowledge, skills, and practices into the organization. And this will provide a foundation of fresh knowledge and new perspectives that can be directly applied to improving the process program.
The second facet of this two-dimensional shape is process training. Your organization should establish some form of training program to support the use and evolution of the process program across the organization. There are some sound reasons for this.
First, you'll no doubt be bringing new people into the organization on something of a regular basis. And you should have some sort of mechanism in place for training these people in their jobs. Part of their job will be to follow the processes established to carry out the work. You can facilitate this with formal classroom-style training, with coaching and mentoring, maybe even with computer-based instruction.
At the same time, you'll want to remember that your process program will be evolving over time: changing to become better and changing to keep up with shifting business environments. This will require process refresh training at certain intervals. Depending on the size and reach of your program, you may set up some type of fixed training regimen or curriculum that requires attendance by certain job roles for mini sessions once a quarter, twice a year, or even annually.
The issue of training, once your program is moving under its own steam, can easily lose its focus. But it's wise to keep a steady handle on it. If you appreciate the fact that your program will changethat you actually want it to changeand that your people's ability to use the program effectively is key to its success, then you will have little trouble justifying the importance of training and the contribution it can make to sustained process improvement.