There are two things that new entrants expect to happen when they join a new firm. If the role is new to them, they expect to be trained how to do the job. If the role is not new to them, they expect to be trained how the firm they have joined wants them to do the job. But how good is the firm’s training plan, and does it meet the needs of the new entrant for whatever role they join? Does the firm even have a focused training plan?
It’s quite likely that a new entrant joining as an adviser will get a training plan of sorts, either to get them through from trainee to competent adviser status, or to validate their previous competent adviser status. But what about new entrants joining as a para-planner, or perhaps as a member of the support team? Do they get trained for their role is a similar way? In my experience, probably not.
There are several options for training new entrants. One is to do everything on the job. Or you could to engage somebody else to help you, perhaps using something like the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) apprenticeship programme (see T-C News October 2018 “The road to success”). Or you could design and deliver your own training programme specific to the role and linked to the specific needs of the firm. Two of these will be focused training, the other is probably how it’s always been done.
There should be five key elements for the new entrant: What, how, who, why, and when.
What is a focused training plan? Think about the saying “It’s not the winning it’s the taking part”. A focused training plan is not about getting the result, it’s about how the new entrant gets to the result.
Typically, when a new entrant joins a firm there will be an induction of sorts with somebody who will introduce the firm, show them around, and deposit them with their new team or supervisor. After that it’s likely to be mostly on the job training. The new entrant learns as they go and picks up skills and knowledge sporadically and with very little focus. The only plan in place is to get them up and running.
Possibly the main reason for this is the mindset that a new entrant only becomes an asset to the firm when they can do something themselves with minimal supervision. Up to that point they are a negative resource requiring time from other people to show them how to do something and to monitor them. Often there is little, or no resource allocated to training, and this applies to all roles, so the new entrant is taken through what is likely to be a jigsaw puzzle of information and application.
So, what should training plan focus on? There should be five key elements for the new entrant: What, how, who, why, and when. Each section of the training plan should detail what is going to be trained, how it is going to be trained, who is doing the training, why the training is necessary to the role, and when it needs to be completed by along with any checking that the new entrant has understood the training and can deliver to the expected standard.
The key here is that the trainee would be given as much information as they need to do the role first, so it may a be a few days before they’re on team. This is a worthwhile investment in time by the firm since starting them off this way this will faster than collecting the same information over a longer period whilst on the job, and the trainee then joins the team with enough knowledge to then be taught the specifics relevant to the role without having to cover the basics as well.
The first few days should ideally cover the following: The firms’ policies and structure. Procedures, systems and other tools relevant to the new entrants’ role, together with any testing for understanding and application. If the new entrant is required to take specific learning, such as exams, this should also be introduced at this point. Probably the best person to coordinate this would be the person responsible for Training and Competence (T&C), and the people likely to be involved in the first few days would include the new entrants’ supervisor, Human Resources, Compliance, representatives from different sections of the business, and specialists to train systems and tools. It’s very much a team effort to get the new entrant in a position where they can start work on team as opposed to the team training them how to start work.
So that covers the “what” and “how” elements, and who should deliver the training. The why is equally important. Everybody should understand why we do something, the purpose, the benefits, and the consequences of not doing it or doing it wrong.
Finally, there’s the “when” element. New entrants should understand when each element of the training plan should be completed, and to what standard it should be completed. This is important so that both they, and the person responsible for the delivery of the training, can monitor progress and success, and identify areas of strength and weakness.
This should all be pulled together in a training log, and it’s also a good idea to get the new entrant to keep their own daily log recording what they learned. If they’re enrolled in the T&C Scheme this could cover some of their Key Performance Indicators, and possibly their Continuous Performance Development records as well.
The size of the firm isn’t important. Neither is the mindset that firms often have that new entrants should start doing the job straight away. What is important is investing time in getting new entrants ready to start their role through a focused training plan. After all, you wouldn’t want to start your first driving lesson on the motorway, would you?