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Having a well-trained staff can be one of the most important assets a business or organization has. Training should be considered an important investment. Effective training programs lead to not only higher productivity but can position a business or organization for stability and long-term success. Something we can definitely benefit from in Indian country.

Effective training programs will help build employees technical skill levels as well as enhance their professional development. Training should be an ongoing process, not something provided only to new employees. All staff can benefit from developing or refining their professional skills.

Although many businesses and organizations do allow for a training budget, training does not need to be a high cost expense. When done creatively and strategically, you can reap the same benefits without exhausting your monetary resources. Take advantage of the many lost-cost programs offered by local organizations or utilizing online training (which will help save on travel expenses). Also consider an in-house program, have your managers or staff facilitate regular training sessions.

It is important to identify your organizational training needs before attempting to coordinate a training program. A training needs analysis will help determine areas of need and employee interest. In a needs analysis you can assess what your employees are interested in receiving training on, what some of the immediate needs of your organization are. It will also allow you to measure current skill levels and develop a training plan that will be most effective in meeting your overall needs. It will also help to justify support for your training program.

A training needs analysis should consist of the following:

  • Your current organizational situation: General organizational description, history and mission. Any major changes taking place in your organization and how training might help to meet your organizational goals and objectives.
  • Personnel assessment: Number of employees, employee job functions, any recent turnover of staff (staff position changes or new staff) and summary of current staff skills inventory.

  • A description of training needs: Summary of results generated from questionnaires, management/administrative requests, employee interests and needs (such as new technology or policy).

  • An assessment of training options: Current resources available, identification of internal and external training options. Cross training, online training, workshops and conferences can be included.

  • Training plan or schedule: Training recommendations, a budget of estimated costs, a timeline of training programs. Your plan should be revised at least once a year.

  • A training analysis will give you the structure and support you need to begin your employee training program. Following a plan will help to ensure goals are met. The documentation of a strategy will also help to communicate the program to your administration and staff.

Training can help build better workforces and keep us competitive. In Indian country we can all benefit from highly developed and skilled Native professionals. It is important to consider learning as an ongoing process in both our professional and personal lives. Working to support our own as well as our staffs professional development can go a long way to ensure a prosperous future for our tribal nations.

Lucinda Hughes-Juan has over 20 years teaching and training in the field of business management, with a focus on Native businesses and organizations. She is an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. She holds an MBA in global management, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in business and organizational management. E-mail her at: MLS8090@aol.com or visit her website: www.nativecareerdevelopment.com.