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Tap the Power of Internal Training

Provide Internal Training to Develop the Knowledge and Skills of Your Employees


Internal training is an opportunity to impart specialized knowledge.

Internal training is an opportunity to impart specialized knowledge.

Diane Diederich

Internal training offers employers and employees advantages that are not found when you send an employee to an external training program or seminar. Training transfer occurs more naturally and employees cement learning through training other employees. On-the-job training that enhances an employee’s skills and ensures her readiness for the next promotion, is generally far superior to a public seminar.

My core article about training lists the various ways that organizations can provide training to employees. While some of the methods involve external attendance at training programs and seminars, I am a firm believer in the power of the training and development activities that employees do internally.

Internal training and development leaps the huge barriers that encumber external training. Internal training reflects a solid knowledge of the organization’s culture. Internal training uses real life examples, problems and challenges that participants encounter every day at work. Successful internal training identifies the exact skills and knowledge that participants need to succeed in their jobs. It also prepares employees for success in their next job.

Internal training is presented in the language and terminology that participants understand and can relate to. Internal training develops the skills of employees and cements their own knowledge of the topic. I am sure you are familiar with the old adage that the best way to make sure that an employee thoroughly understands a topic is to have the employee train others.

Tips About Internal Training for Employees

These tips will help you provide effective internal training and development for employees.

On-the-Job Training

Use the Performance Development Planning Process to lay out a plan for the internal development of an employee. This is specific job-related training that results in a successful, developing employee.

Internal, on-the-job training includes such activities as:

  • Invite the employee to contribute to department or company-wide decisions and planning.

  • Provide the employee access to higher level, more strategic, meetings.

  • Provide more information by including the employee on specific mailing lists, in company briefings, and in your confidence.

  • Enable the employee to establish goals, priorities, and measurements.

  • Assign the responsibility of teaching machine operation, quality standards, production standards, and safety practices to employees who train new employees or employees who are new to the work area.

  • Assign supervisory or team leader responsibilities, or function as an assistant lead while learning.

  • Assign the employee to head up projects or teams, or function as an assistant lead while learning.

  • Enable the employee to spend more time with his or her boss in a coaching / mentoring relationship. Set goals for employee development as a team.

  • Provide the opportunity for the employee to cross-train in other roles and responsibilities.

Mentoring and Coaching

Mentoring, coaching, and field trips, both inside and outside the company, help employees develop their skills and knowledge. Employees who "teach others" most effectively incorporate the knowledge and skills themselves.

  • Assign the employee a formal mentor from within his or her work group. The more experienced employee has the responsibility to help the employee learn the skills necessary to succeed in their job.

  • Sponsor a "take an employee to work" day, as one of my clients did. Employees applied to participate and spent the day learning about another job function within the company. As an example, a developer spent the day learning about public relations. Human Resources sponsored a debriefing lunch to gather the employees' take aways, explore their learning, and improve the experience for the future.

  • Encourage employees to seek out informal mentors on their own in areas of needed development and interest.

Internal Training Sessions

Internal training sessions and methods are effective. Especially if they offer employees new skills and ideas, internal training, reading, and meeting can replace much external training in organizations. Internal training is also cost effective and the training facilitator or resource remains available daily to participants following the training session.

  • Offer an internal training session. The facilitator can be an employee or a trainer or consultant with whom the organization has developed a relationship over time. This ensures that the trainer is cognizant of the organization’s culture and needs.

  • Require employees to train other employees when they attend an external training seminar or conference; they can share the information learned at a seminar or training session. Offer the time at a department meeting, a brown bag lunch, or a scheduled training session to discuss the information or present the information learned externally to others.

  • Purchase relevant business books for employees. To compound the impact of reading, sponsor an employee book club during which employees discuss a current book and apply its concepts to your company.

  • Offer commonly-needed training and information on an Intranet, an internal company website. This works effectively for new employee orientation and gives new employees a source to check following the orientation, too.

  • Provide training by either knowledgeable employees or an outside expert in a brown bag lunch format. Employees eat lunch and gain knowledge about a valuable topic. Survey employees to determine interest or ask Human Resources staff to consolidate training needs from employee performance development plans (PDPs).

  • Sponsor an internal conference at which employees can learn new ideas and skills. You can mimic an external conference with lunch and all of the trappings of an external conference at a local conference center. Offer conference sessions taught by internal staff on topics of interest to their internal audience. Picture a "real" day long conference and you'll see the opportunity to cross-train across departments, utilize the skills of internal employees, and tap the knowledge of informed resources such as your health insurance provider or your 401(k) source.

Internal Training Summary

Internal training is a cost effective, encouraged, effective method for training employees. Whether the training is provided on the job, from informal or formal coaches and mentors, or in internal seminars, brown bag lunches, or conferences, internal training has the potential to positively impact employee learning and development. Give internal training a try. You will quickly recognize the power of internal training as a tool for employee development.

Readers Share Low Cost, Creative Training Ideas

Readers share their ideas about what they do to provide low and no cost, creative, successful employee training, development, and team building opportunities during tough economic times. Please share your ideas, too.

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