Once you have your department’s mission statement and objectives created, you might think you are set to go. Hold your horses, you’re not ready just yet! You still need to create a training policy.
As the mandate by which the training department works, the policy provides a foundation and focus for all training activities. Once you complete this process, you’ll see it wasn’t all that difficult and you’ll agree that it truly adds an extra professional touch to the way others in the organization view the training department.
What is a policy and why is it a “must have?”
We all hear and see the word “policy” a lot, but what exactly is a training policy? It’s a document that outlines the department’s mission statement, objectives, customers, and actual policy items.
An effective training policy does the following:
- Provides guidance for allocating department resources such as trainers, money, and time
- Gives a broad direction to training activities
- Outlines the authority given to the training department, as well as the limits to that authority
Training policies can also be used as one of the tools for evaluating the success of the department’s efforts. Six months after the policy goes into effect, the training department should evaluate the policy. As a team, ask yourselves, “Are we fulfilling the objectives and policy items we have stated in our formal policy?”
Now, let’s do it!
First of all, get out the following documents, which you should already have created:
- Mission statement
- Outline of the training department’s roles
- To provide product update training to all consultants within the next 6 months.
- To support the company’s objectives in reaching its goals.
- To develop and implement a management training program for all middle level managers within the next 12 months.
- To provide customer service skills training to all new help desk employees no more than two months after being hired.
Note: If you haven’t created these documents yet, please read the article titled “Mission possible! Creating a mission statement and objectives for your training department ,“ and then you’ll be up to speed. You will need these documents before you can create your policy items.
Here are some things to keep in mind while creating policy items:
- Policy items should relate to the company’s goals.
- These items should be consistent. Ask yourself, “Are they in line with the stated mission and objectives?”
- They should be clearly written and widely communicated.
If you’d like to add a personal touch to the policy document, you could include an introduction before getting to all the dry details. To make sure all of your training bases are covered within the policy, conduct a brainstorming session with your training team. You can even go as far as to create a “policy checklist” that includes all the items you came up with in your brainstorming session. Following are some items you might want to include in your checklist:
- Evaluation of training programs
- Selection of employees
- Availability of training
- Location of training sessions
- Programs to be established
- Length of training day
- Training design standards
- Tuition-paid plans
- Outside services and programs
- Policy revision
- Link from training to performance appraisals
Finally, keep in mind that there should be a policy item that clearly defines how often the policy will be reviewed and updated.
Now you’re ready to create your own policy items by using the documents your training department has created and referencing the key points discussed above.
We would like to know what other training departments include in their policies. If you’d like to share your department’s policy with us, or share with us the development process you took to get to the final product, please send us a note . We’d like to hear from you.
Pulling it all together
Using our ABC Corporation example, here is an example of how your final policy might look:
The Consulting Services Training Department truly believes that the employees of the ABC Corporation are its most valuable asset and is confident that each employee will receive the knowledge and skills necessary to perform his/her job at the highest level possible. The policy of the Consulting Services Training Department is as follows:
- All levels of management will be involved in the planning of new programs.
- Upon joining the company, a new employee will participate in an orientation session.
- A needs assessment of each employee will be conducted annually to assist with the employee’s career and skills development.
- The training policy will be reviewed and updated twice a year (every six months) to reflect updates to the company’s goals and objectives.
Susanne E. Krivanek is a training coordinator/analyst for Systems & Computer Technology Corp. , Education Solutions Division, who specializes in the development of software product training and certification programs. She has a training background in brokerage software, office applications, and business entrepreneurship, and she speaks on maximizing training effectiveness.