The first step is to make training a high priority at all levels of the company, says Dan Sommer, founder of New York-based startup Trilogy Education. Trilogy partners with universities to offer continuing education classes in technology. "The best people-focused organizations spend time trying to understand what employees need," he says. Consider polling workers annually with a short survey, since there's often a disconnect between what the rank and file want and what their managers think they need.
For example, if your employee survey shows many workers want to improve their public speaking skills, organize a day for everyone to share a presentation on the subject of their choice, and videotape each performance. Afterward, gather a group of managers to review the presentations, and sit with each employee to provide feedback.
It’s also important to create a culture of accountability to ensure that people are continuously giving and receiving training, Sommer says. One of the ideas he has for addressing this issue at his own 300-person company involves compensation. Sommer is exploring creating an incentive where executives won’t receive their full bonuses if they don’t meet training-related goals.
Universities provide continuing education classes on a wide range of topics, from creative writing to 3D modeling. But there’s a little-known fact about the schools that offer these programs: They can also build custom training classes for companies, and these courses can be quite affordable.
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