I spend a lot of time talking about consistency in company processes, manuals, and other documentation, giving some the impression that training is not as important. Not so. They are two sides of the same coin. Company processes and policies define how things operate (company standards), and training is the act of transferring those standards to be put into practice – pretty straightforward. What is surprising is how disconnected these two items are in most companies. Many companies treat them as if they are two completely different things. I know what you are thinking: “How can they be treated differently? Without standards, there’d be nothing to train.”
Think about it for a minute. While in training, the instructor provides explanations and context for policies. In training, the instructor might say, “This is the policy for X, and here is why we have this policy; not following this policy will result in Y. So, make sure you follow this policy.” In other words, there is a more significant depth of information provided during training than there is in the company documentation. Here again, I know what you are thinking: “But, of course, that’s true. There is no way you could put all of the additional details and stories into the company manual.” You are right. Consider this: once you complete the initial training, company documentation provides a reference for what you learned in training. So, lengthy explanations and cause-and-effect stories are not needed. The problem starts when the company documentation changes after training. And, this is where almost everyone gets it wrong. Now, the employee is not in training, and the updates come with no explanation. Worse, the updates come in many forms: email, updated manual, verbally at a company meeting. So, there is no explanation about why this change is happening and the desired outcome of the new change. The delivery method for each revision is different depending on the department or the author issuing the change. In many cases, the distribution method is different even when the department and the author are the same. It’s a mess, and the staff is frustrated.
For a moment, assume that your training program is world-class. When you people complete training, wouldn’t it be great if they continued to have a world-class experience? Trust me. They aren’t. The data is overwhelming. Doing the training well and then dropping the ball on the distribution is like running a marathon and dropping out with one mile to go. Putting all of the content together and creating an excellent training program is 95% of the work. Take the time to put in the last 5% and get it across the finish line.