March 2014 | Commentary | Smart Moves

5 Steps for Improving Your Logistics Training

Tags: Education & Careers, Labor Management

Anne Yarmark is Senior Vice President, Human Resources (pictured), and Kate Kearney, Director, Organizational Development & Training, Choice Logistics, 917-344-4009

Training is often viewed as an employee benefit, rather than an investment in the business. That's why in difficult economic times, training and employee development are among the first budget items to go. To avoid these cuts, you must align educational programs with your company's business objectives, and position them to drive results.

Here are five steps for building effective logistics training programs:

  1. Understand the business. The most meaningful training programs address one basic question: What does the company need to do to improve the customer experience? No matter what business you are in—but particularly in logistics—you are nowhere without the customer. Understand the challenges your company faces, then build a training program that addresses them. It will be easier to gain buy-in for training investments if management sees it as a vehicle to strengthen the business.
  2. Conduct a needs assessment. Logistics training programs need to be relevant, constructive, and engaging. Talk to key stakeholders in your company to determine what they are trying to accomplish on a departmental and employee level. Create a meaningful program around those business needs.

    Take into consideration not only the enterprise's needs, but also employee needs. Everyone does not respond to the same learning techniques, so mix it up. Using a blended-learning approach gets everyone involved. Include visuals, and make the program interactive so everyone has an opportunity to participate.

  3. Gain buy-in. The beauty of conducting a proper needs assessment and soliciting input from key stakeholders is it raises awareness of your goals. If management believes your training programs will strengthen the supply chain and position the company for success, they will be more likely to support those initiatives. But don't stop there. Ask for management's feedback as you develop and implement your training program. Assess whether your program is achieving what you set out to accomplish, and try to use as many metrics as possible. Embrace feedback from management and employees alike.
  4. Keep your focus. Don't try to tackle too many new initiatives simultaneously. Stay focused so you can gain some quick wins and momentum, then build from there. Providing employees with the necessary skills, tools, and resources will not only enhance the customer experience, it will also boost logistics and operational efficiencies, allow you to build credibility with employees, and help improve retention and morale. Don't be afraid to adjust your training plan. Remember, the goal is for employees to embrace the training, and for management to support it.
  5. Stay connected. Follow up with employees at three-, six-, and 12-month intervals post-training to ensure they are incorporating what they learned into their daily routines. During these one-on-one meetings, ask employees to describe what they learned, and to provide specific examples of how they have incorporated this knowledge into their daily routine. By using these sessions as coaching opportunities, you will be able to help employees understand the value in applying what they learned.

Following these five steps will enable you to develop a learning culture that includes meaningful and relevant training programs. It will also align your logistics training initiatives with your company's business objectives, which will position your employees and your company for continued success.