When the mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he was attempting to climb Everest, his response was ‘because it’s there’. This simple 3 word sentence has enormous power when used to justify a fairly unjustifiable ambition.
In the field of corporate training, we often look at customer problems as our Mount Everest to climb – roll out training just ‘because it is there’ then set high expectations of what can be achieved.
Here’s the thing – training is not always the solution to a problem. In fact, we prefer trainings to be short and quick. They also don’t have to always take people away from their jobs or come at a hefty price, but they do have to exist with a purpose.
So how can you avoid rolling out training merely for the sake of training?
It all starts with an understanding of training needs analysis. There are many approaches to this, but in my mind, the simplest and most effective approach is to view training in terms of necessities, lacks, and wants.
To understand necessities, you need to first define the skills trainees need to learn in a target situation. This starts with an analysis of the language used in the context and its communicative purpose – in short defining where you want to be and what the language looks like in a successful customer interaction. A solid framework for analysing language and communication like the 5 domains that BUPLAS assesses is crucial for this to be effective.
Lacks could include looking at learner levels, current training materials, the trainers themselves, and the training time available. If you’re thinking about new hire training, then a communication assessment that can provide detailed information of an applicant’s communication ability is critical to understanding trainees’ strengths and weaknesses.
The wants are sometimes termed subjective needs. They can be trickier to determine but include things such as the trainees’ expectations, attitudes to English, and preferred styles and strategies of learning.
Looking at necessities, lacks, and wants is important but they can also change depending on the context. One example comes from our experience with a major regional bank which had just expanded from India to China.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the company decided to use the same training course in China they had used in India. After all, the process was the same, so why not? In short, they had looked at the ‘necessities’.
What they forgot were the lacks and the wants.
Rolling out the same training program spelled disaster. Employees from the China hub struggled to communicate with customers onshore. As a result, customer complaints came pouring in.
To get to the root cause, Future Perfect conducted a three day audit to evaluate their training program. We found that while the necessities were the same in both sites, the lacks and wants were very different.
The entry level of trainees in China was significantly lower than that of their Indian counterparts. And as such, much of the course content was pitched at too high a level. In addition, the trainees felt that the training had little relevance. Many did not have a call center background and were struggling to apply the content of the course to their jobs.
Taking these different perspectives on board, we redesigned the course using the BUPLAS framework and increased the training length to two weeks.
Within weeks of the roll out, the regional bank saw improved results. The trainees were better prepared to interact with onshore customers. And the account slowly began to reach their KPI targets.
All this worked because we simply considered these 3 simple things in mind – necessities, lacks, and wants.
Very often, we focus on the peak, but forget where we are currently standing, and what approaches and strategies are best to reach the top. Understanding multiple perspectives is critical for any training needs analysis, especially in this workplace context where expectations of training effectiveness are high, and the consequences of getting it wrong can have serious impact on customers.
Need help evaluating and improving your training process? We offer free evaluation to hep contact centeres and multinational companies deliver business results through communication. Sign up now for a free evaluation, and a team of business and linguistic experts from Future Perfect will audit your training program and present a detailed analysis on what you can do to reach your business targets.