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Getting the Most from Staff Training with Michael Harcourt

Posted on Wednesday, 30th January 2019

Getting the Most from Staff Training with Michael Harcourt

Michael Harcourt, known to his teammates as Micky, is one of our trainers here at Essential Site Skills. A finalist for the ‘Rising Star’ award at next week’s Learning Awards, Micky is a well-liked and respected trainer. We sat down for ten minutes to chat about staff training and see what tips he can offer, based on his experience as a trainer.

Congratulations on making it to the finals at the Learning Awards! We know you have been busy delivering courses lately - what do you think are the biggest motivators for training now?  

Image shows Rising Star Award Finalist logo.Thanks – I’m keeping everything crossed for next week!

I wouldn’t say there are any new motivators for training - training and staff competence are critical functions to any successful business. Every business should invest in these areas to ensure employees are productive, efficient and most importantly, safe.

What skills and courses are in demand and every employer should think about investing in? 

It really depends on the sector, however; a basic understanding of Health and Safety will ensure that a company creates a good safety culture amongst their workforce. There are many areas of training that would benefit all businesses but one area I feel deserves more focus is material handling. 6.6 million working days were lost last year yet with some practical training employees can be taught and reminded about correct moving techniques, reducing injuries and absences. And secondly, ill health. Work-related ill health, stress and depression are not always easy to recognise so providing supervisors or managers with training and the ability to recognise systems early will give employees the support they may need but are too scared to ask for.

What are the options when it comes to training?

Training is now more accessible than ever! Businesses have the option to send their employees to open courses across varying locations in the UK, this is handy if you have one or two members of staff that need training. However, many businesses prefer training delivered on-site giving them flexibility and the ability to train more employees in one go. Sometimes this option can be more cost effective by giving the client an option of 2 ½ day courses in one day for example. E-Learning is also now widely available and compliments other training really well. It’s quick, cheaper and can be accessed pretty much anywhere where there is IT. Some clients prefer a more personal touch on training delivery – in that case, bespoke packages or courses are available.

What do you think the biggest challenge is when it comes to organising staff training?

Early Internal Communication – knowing what training is needed, why it’s needed, when it’s needed and for who. The bigger the business the harder this becomes so good early lines of communication are needed to help plan and forecast training.

How should employers pitch training to their staff? 

Training is a vehicle for success! Training will equip and prepare businesses for current and future growth ensuring that jobs are stable, and the company values its employees. Be open, honest and concise. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory shows that psychologically, once the foundations are laid for employees to be happy, stable and wanted in the workplace they automatically seek self-actualisation, i.e. they want personal fulfilment, growth and development.

How about the learning environment – is it important where training takes place?

Absolutely, the tutor and the training delivery itself is only 1 third of a quality training experience. The learning environment and the learners themselves account for the remaining two thirds. Learners must be comfortable, secure and safe so the surrounding environment is key to ensure learning can take place. It must be suitable for the type of training be delivered and of sufficient size and resources.

What factors do you think must be present to make learning both effective AND enjoyable? 

Humour, empathy, a mix of learning styles catered for and a variety of teaching aids used. It can’t just be boring PowerPoint. The teaching cycle must take place and the learner must be involved and feel part of the training for it to be truly effective. Depending on the type of training being carried out, a solid formative and summative range of informal and formal assessments must take place so the learner and tutor can see progression and identify work on points so the learner can reach their goals.

Image shows 6 construction workers on site training.

Do you have any tips on motivating reluctant learners? 

Inclusivity – identify learners needs early and plan effectively, find out what their end goal is, support an encourage and always greet with a smile. Sometimes reluctant learners have a fear or phobia of learning, perhaps they haven’t studied for many years or have a history of not performing well in exams. It’s the trainer’s job to reassure and relax them.

What do you think about in-house training? 

In-house training has a place, but it must be carefully managed to ensure standards are not comprised due to over-familiarity, new work demands and/or internal trainer competence. I would say use in-house training as a catalyst to build on what has been taught during external training courses; particularly for SME’s. External tutors are highly regulated and typically must hold a formal teaching qualification so they can teach using a variety of styles to suit any learner. In addition, they’re non-biased. 

Should businesses outsource their training instead? 

Potentially yes, but again, businesses must do their due diligence to ensure the training provider is reputable, has the capacity to deliver the training needs, and that the tutors are appropriately qualified.

Why should employers choose Essential Site Skills for their training needs? 

As mentioned, choosing a training provider is hard when there are so many out there but try to look for a provider that has great values! At Essential Site Skills, we pride ourselves on our subject knowledge and each member of the team is very invested in what we do and has a passion for learning.

Thanks, Micky and congratulations again on your award nomination! We can’t wait to find out if you win! 

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