One of the most important investments a practice can make is the development of its employees. Here are steps on how to design the right training program and goals to suit every member of your office
Prior to this pandemic when clinics were open and busy, it was easy to push training to a later date if it was not part of an organized schedule. Much like having a marketing plan that is at least six months out, preferably a whole year, staff training events and goals should also be mapped out in a like fashion. Now that many clinics have limited customer contact, or have temporarily ceased seeing patients altogether, focus can be placed on developing skills and continued education.
Adherence to accomplishing that goal will be greater when it is part of a plan visible to all involved, and everyone knows what the training goals are and why it is of importance to attend.
Developing the right training goals
One needs to rank the learning goals for both importance and impact of time for learning. Is there an immediacy for an employee to know a certain program, or is the goal a gradual increase in knowledge that can last months or years?
If the learning is important and requires a significant amount of time, then the goal should be set for the near future, and time must be provided for the employee to be able to achieve that goal. We have seen that type of training goal when Lyric is introduced into the clinic and a total of 6-8 hours of training are required to provide a clinician the required information and hands-on training to be ready to see their first patients.
The other point to consider is the type of training for the various roles in the office. Which topics are relevant for which employees?
Visualize what achievement looks like
Often a business knows what they want to look like or be able to do, but they do not know how to reach that goal. One way of achieving that goal is by visualizing the business at the point of the finished goal and then look backwards toward the point at which you are currently at, and see what had to happen to accomplish that goal.
This hypothetical look back will present a workable plan, and once you know what plan had to come to fruition, you can backtrack and see the individual steps along the way of that plan. Based on those steps you can then create a timeline and goals.
Create the training plan
In order to create a training plan in a way that supports the business, several steps should be followed.
- Vision of the goal
- How do you get there?
- Create the plan
- Communicate the plan
- Implement the learning
Setting training goals can depend on the role of the personnel and the subject matter of the training. Is the goal of the training understanding and application of a software program, such as an office management program, or an ongoing learning of materials that keep changing, such as hearing aid technology?
If goals, and the measurement of the achievement of those goals, is too far into the future, it becomes easier to put off the learning of the materials.
All stakeholders should not only be informed of the plan of learnings, but also the reason for them, otherwise there will be less buy-in or commitment to seeing it through. It could be said that communication should happen after the defining the vision of the business, in order to find out what skills the team already possess. That knowledge will help in creating the roadmap.
Identifying front office opportunities
Front office personnel have several roles that they have to perform. On the one hand, there is the more impersonal data management and other clerical tasks, which require learning processes and software platforms. For those tasks, online courses offered by the software companies can be used for training opportunities.
On the other hand, there is their interaction with patients, either in person or over the phone. Depending on the experience of the employee, a script book may be beneficial for phone calls, to allow for a consistent message to be told by the office. Down time can be used to rehearse scripted answers to common patient questions to make them sound more natural when in a conversation with a patient.
Phone conversations can also be recorded and reviewed to determine where improvements in messaging can be made. A collaborative approach to the review may be advisable to keep the employee from feeling ‘spied upon’. The employee should listen to recordings, and be allowed to start with identifying opportunities of improvement before the manager shares his or her suggestions. This could be done via conference call or video session when manager and employee are not in the same location.
Developing a clear path for audiologists
Audiologists can also benefit from two different directions of trainings. They will need continuous training on new products and software, which can easily be provided by the manufacturers. Many will also benefit from training related to dealing with patients who are ambivalent about adopting a treatment plan.
The hearing industry is based on care. In order to be able to provide care for the patients, one must establish a connection, which is far easier to accomplish when putting empathy at the forefront of the interaction with the patient. After step two has been identified and created, a determination has to be made regarding the importance of the topic and the importance of a timely implementation in order to make the training more immediate.
If a subject is deemed to be needed immediately and vital to the operation of the business, then a priority must be given to the task when looking at schedule. If the task is important, but not imminently necessary, then a time for the training can be chosen when it has less of an impact on the business operation. Ranking the various trainings will allow for an orderly progress of trainings, and provide a clear plan that can be laid out for a longer period of time. The other component of scheduling trainings is whether they are pre-recorded, or self-learning options, or webinar trainings.
Some webinar trainings are at set times, and the business owners will have to make a determination if the employees can attend those trainings, while other custom webinar trainings can be scheduled to fit the business’ needs. Pre-recorded trainings will provide the greatest flexibility for scheduling.
As soon as possible after the completion of a training a discussion should be had about the implementation of the learnings. A collaborative approach will allow the primary stakeholders of the training to suggest the best way for them to see implementation, beyond what the manager or business owner had initially intended.
Following your training calendar
If the business has a training calendar, much like it has a marketing calendar, then the completion and implementation of a training should lead to the previewing of the next one on the roadmap. Depending on the initial vision of the state of where the business is to be, the just-completed learning may support the upcoming one.
By having a planned out roadmap of trainings, a business can have buy-in from all members in order to develop not only individual skills, but also a better functioning business unit.
To access learning modules and webinars on topics related to audiology (such as eAudiology), we invite you to visit Phonak Learning (available in select countries).