Best Practice Framework Series #7: Don’t Overlook the Training and Communications
If an entire Sustainable Procurement Program is a 100-mile journey, 50 out of the 100 miles is allocated to Training and Communications. Typically, Training and Communications is the most undervalued element of Reeve’s 10-element Best Practice Framework. Organizations put effort into developing high quality Policies, Procedures, and Tools to build out solid infrastructure for their sustainable procurement program, however, they often neglect to effectively train staff and communicate to internal stakeholders. Without an understanding of sustainable procurement, staff and internal stakeholders cannot execute sustainable procurement effectively.
The Training and Communications Plan: a Winning Formula
The most impactful sustainable procurement programs have a Training and Communications Plan to help guide the training and communication activities for management and staff. This document does not need to be complex; in fact, we advise organizations to “keep it simple”. The plan can be an appendix of the sustainable procurement strategy and action plan, or it can be its own formal or informal document.
Regardless of the desired format for the Training and Communications Plan, following these five simple steps can set an organization up to effectively train their staff and communicate with internal stakeholders:
- Define the Audiences
Within every organization, there are different audiences who require different training or communications material and time commitments. For example, the Executive team will need to know why sustainable procurement is a priority and what the goals are, but they may not be required to learn how to use SP Tools. Contrarily, procurement staff and internal client departments will need to know the goals of the program, as well as how to enact them using Tools and Procedures. Finally, some audiences – like administrative staff – may require training solely for low-value purchasing. It is crucial to define each audience to ensure the content and allocated time is appropriate for each.
- Choose the Method(s)
There are many ways to approach staff training and internal communications depending on the audience, engagement level, and content. A good Training and Communications Plan will identify which methods to use for each audience. The best training and communication often involves repeating the same content with different methods and channels to ensure the content is absorbed by the audience. Some of the most common training methods include lunch and learns, seminars or webinars, online resources or courses, and live training sessions.
- Solidify the Content
The main goal for training and communications is to orient procurement staff and client departments to Sustainable Procurement Policy commitments, Procedures, and Tools. Some of the information drafted during the development of these program elements can be directly transferred to the training and communication material for staff and internal stakeholders. However, some of the content will have to be identified. It is important that Training and Communication Plan is used to validate the information in the prior program elements, while also addressing any gaps that may exist, and tailoring the content to each audience.
- Prepare the Schedule
Like in the Sustainable Procurement Action Plan, a Training and Communications Plan needs a schedule to ensure activities are structured. The schedule helps organizations with logistical aspect of training and communications, like determining the duration and frequency of sessions, how many sessions or different types of communication assets are needed for each audience, and what resources are needed to execute the communications or training.
- Measure the Impact
After the training and communications have been executed, it is best practice to measure their results and assess their effectiveness. A high-quality Training and Communications Plan will specify how the organization will measure the results of the training and communications. Some examples of measurement include benchmarking knowledge before and after surveys, participant feedback surveys and performance tracking. More information about metrics will come in our Measurement and Reporting blog.
Quick Tips for Training and Communications
After drafting the Training and Communications Plan, your organization is ready to begin training its staff and delivering communication materials based on the schedule developed. Over the years, Reeve has generated some quick tips for making the most out of staff training:
- Share the organization’s sustainable procurement goals to ensure staff and internal stakeholders understand why it is important.
- Share sustainable procurement success stories in communication materials to help inspire staff and internal stakeholders.
- Avoid a single 4–8-hour training session: opt for a number of shorter sessions to promote easy scheduling and engagement.
- Make training sessions interactive to increase employee participation.
- Use different methods and channels to repeat the same messages for training and communication material to help with information retention.
- Maintain consistent terminology and imagery in communication materials to help the audiences easily identify sustainable procurement information.
- Take feedback after training, act on it to help employees get the most out of the training.
- Offer employee support before, during, and after training, to ensure all employees needs are met.
If Sustainable Procurement isn’t delivering the results you desire in your organization, contact us at email@example.com to learn more about creating and executing an effective Training and Communications Plan. Check back next month to ensure your Sustainable Procurement Program is delivering results with Measurement and Reporting.