Published by Skills for Justice
As a manager, you may find yourself in any number of difficult situations when an employee asks you for training.
Most of the time, you’ll say yes – in which case, you probably won’t need to handle the situation in any specific way. But there are times when you’ll need to be diplomatic.
For instance, you may have to say no due to budget constraints. But without proper, effective communication, this can lead to a rift between you and your staff as they are left to ponder ‘why not’?
On the other hand, if you say yes to one member of staff, will you make other staff angry or jealous?
To help you answer a training request in a delicate way, here are a few things to consider:
1. If you have to say no, tell them how you will follow-up their request
Your employee may have been depending on that training to cope with their day-to-day work, or they may be chasing a promotion. Either way, your negative response will probably disappoint them.
Therefore, never say no flippantly. Instead, offer immediate follow-up actions. For instance, “I can’t sign off that training right now, but I will make sure I book it in as soon as possible. In the meantime, I want you to shadow one of our senior managers for a day.”
By offering something instead of the course they wanted, you can at least demonstrate the employee is valued, and that you have their career ambitions in mind.
Better yet, you could…
2. Offer free training courses as a compromise
This is a great way to let an employee know that you are taking their personal development seriously, without breaking into the budget.
There are all sorts of free online resources you can direct your employees to. For instance, Future Learn, a company owned by the Open University, offers free online courses in law and ethics, management and politics.
You can also find lots of free online courses – including some on business administration, management and communication – on reed.co.uk.
And there are also many free online courses available through Alison, teaching everything from accountancy and project management, to legal skills.
Remember that many of these free courses come with restrictions, such as the number of lessons you can access. You can upgrade to the full courses, and fortunately many of them are not expensive.
Also bear in mind that not all employees will enjoy learning from their desks. For these employees, you may want to…
3. Look out for free conferences and events
Getting your staff networking is one of the best alternatives to formal training. The people they meet and the presentations they’ll see will undoubtedly help to further their careers.
While some conferences charge participants a fee, they often work out much cheaper than training courses.
For anyone involved in criminal justice or policing, the Criminal Justice Management (CJM) conference, although pricey, is a must. There is also the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), who also offer their own online training courses, and the British Society of Criminology keep a list of national and international events on their Events page(with many free to attend).
And, for anyone involved in local government, UNISON hosts an annual local government conference.
For military personnel, The Royal British Legion and other soldiers’ charities provide many learning resources for former servicepeople. Conferences and training tend to be hosted by official Army sources, but you may want to keep an eye on wider security events, such as the RSA Conference, Defence and Security Equipment International and Defence Space.
Remember: if you send an employee to a course or conference they didn’t ask for, you should always…
4. Make sure your employee knows why they are receiving training
If your employee wasn’t expecting the training you offered them, it can leave them confused and worried, especially if you are not quick to communicate.
Always make sure you are open and honest about why you are sending them on that particular course. If you are not, you run the risk of making your employee feel as if they are underperforming or that their job is at risk.
You should also…
5. Make sure your employee understands what they are expected to learn
If you have signed off a course, conference or seminar, make sure you send your employee away with a clear mission.
Often, companies will send one employee on a course as a fact-finder. That person will be expected to share what they learn with the rest of the organisation. If this is the case, make sure all of your employees are aware of this. This will prevent employees from feeling jealous.
If you have turned down a request for any reason, take the opportunity to remind your staff of their long-term objectives. They may have been asking for training because they were trying to handle something outside their job description, or because they felt unsure how to achieve their targets. Having a one-to-one in this situation can help to get them back on track.
To find out how we can help you with your learning and development challenges, get in touch.