The right training, at the right time, in the right way
How Irish Times Training is helping businesses thrive through the chaos of Covid – and beyond
Irish Times Training partners with organisations to identify their training needs and develop a tailored suite of programmes to suit. Photograph: Getty Images
Skills are the key to organisational resilience and effective training is the key to skills. Never has that been so clearly demonstrated as this year, with the advent of the pandemic.
At Irish Times Training demand has surged for training on everything from negotiating deals via Zoom calls to managing remote teams. As a result its clients were able to make the unprecedented transformation online with remarkable ease.
That goes for Irish Times Training too.
“Irish Times Training is all about live, interactive training. Prior to the pandemic we had provided a great deal of face-to-face, classroom-based training, but we transformed into a live virtual training organisation overnight,” explains Imelda Rey, its managing director.
It now offers all its courses, from coaching for performance, to project management, to interviewing and recruitment, all live and interactive online.
It has a full range of courses suitable for individuals looking for professional development as well as for teams looking to build organisational skills.
That includes courses aimed at senior managers, such as leading change and business transformation, digital transformation for leaders, and a mini-MBA in conjunction with Ulster University.
Whatever the training topic at hand, as part of the Irish Times DAC, Ireland’s leading media group, soft skills such as communications are a core part of its offering.
As digital technology takes over increasing amounts of our working lives, it is these soft skills that will increasingly become a determinant of organisational success, she points out.
In times of uncertainty and recession, an ability to reskill rapidly is critical too.
“Numerous reports have shown how investment in training positively impacts the bottom line, leading to higher profit margins and better employee retention and engagement,” she says.
The pandemic has provided many organisations with a clear example of the value of upskilling as a way of managing change. It’s why Irish Times Training courses in areas such as how to provide effective communications in a digital environment saw such demand.
“There is a realisation now from management that certain soft skills which were always important are now crucial in a remote or hybrid workplace environment. These include skills such as the ability to listen, to empathise and to communicate effectively,” she says.
Richard Branson is often quoted as saying employees come first because if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.
Investment in training is the best way any organisation can take care of its employees, and in so doing, future proof itself, she points out.
“The dream organisation is one that is full of employees who care. Organisations that invest in employees have more business success because they have more employee engagement,” says Rey.
Training is an investment, not a cost
As organisations made the transition to remote working, demand for soft skills has grown. “The way we communicate verbally on a video call is very different to the way we would communicate in a room. The volume of emails people have to deal with has increased exponentially, with the result that organisations need more effective business writing skills too,” she points out.
Demand has increased for programmes that support employee wellbeing and resilience too, as well as IT skills.
“There are serious gaps emerging in terms of digital skills, from basic computer literacy to more advanced areas such as digital marketing and data analytics,” says Rey.
If you are getting management training, it’s from someone who is or has been a senior leader
Whatever the subject at hand, Irish Times Training can deliver it, thanks to the breadth and strength of its trainers.
“Our trainers don’t just talk the talk, they walk it. All are, or have been, practitioners in their field. If you’re getting digital skills training from us, you are being trained by a digital marketing practitioner. If you are getting management training, it’s from someone who is or has been a senior leader,” says Rey.
From personal effectiveness and communications, to leadership and management, strategy and organisational development, HR and learning development, as well as customer success, Irish Times Training can tailor programmes to suit.
It also offers a range of free and subsidised Springboard+ programmes, a government-backed initiative for unemployed people, those in employment looking to up/reskill and those returning to work.
The outlook may be hard but the future is soft
Research from Deloitte indicates that transferable soft skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving are as important to business success as technical skills and predicts that soft skill intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.
Whether it is managing people in this new environment, developing workplace wellness and resilience or getting to grips with digital marketing, “training is increasingly important to an organisation’s ability to survive and thrive,” she says.
Right now, the only certainty for many organisations is uncertainty. Upskilling is vital if organisations are to be agile enough to adapt.
Irish Times Training partners with organisations to identify their training needs and develop a tailored suite of programmes to suit.
“Investing in training has always been important but as we move into more difficult times ahead, and potentially a recession, the organisations that will get the most out of training are those that take a partnership approach,” she says.
Meet the trainers
Irish Times Training responds fast to changing needs. Within eight days of the first lockdown, trainer Joe Houghton delivered its first webinar on the dos and don’ts of working online.
He delivers a range of courses online now, from minute taking and report writing to advanced project management and managing remote teams.
Teaching is not the same as training. “Training is skills based, teaching is imparting knowledge,” explains Houghton. “While knowledge is nice, when it translates into more effective action it is better.”
His work often enhances skills people already have. “Because we are all experienced practitioners at Irish Times Training, we can show people the best way to do things, for example, help someone tasked with writing a report who has never been shown how to write a report. We provide the templates, the best practice, to help them.”
He believes soft skills are key to organisational - and individual - success.
“Empathy and resilience is founded on relationships. Anybody can learn hard skills but soft skills require you to think about how you relate to people and how you can do it better, and that changes all the time. Right now, for example, we are all having to communicate through Zoom, but the skills you have in one area of communications don’t necessarily translate to another.”
Effective training is hugely fulfilling, says Houghton. “What I love is that people leave feeling more empowered and confident. That is what training should do, it should make you feel better about the things you have to do, which is why it also accelerates your career trajectory.”
Colleague Mark Hayes specialises in sales and leadership training, including communicate with confidence programmes and Springboard+ courses for start-up entrepreneurs.
“Too often training is ‘off the shelf’, or prescribed. What we do is step into someone’s shoes to see where they are at,” says Hayes.
He uses SPIN, an acronym for effective training which looks first at the individual or organisation’s current Situation, identifies the Problem they are facing, its Implications and the Need, or payoff, they require from effective training.
“It’s about undertaking a training needs analysis to find out what they need and what the focus of their training should be,” says Hayes. “What Irish Times Training provides is ‘just in time’ training – the training you need, when you need it.”
To see the full schedule of courses for 2021 visit irishtimestraining.com