19 Jul 2018


In the current climate of rapid technological change, it is becoming necessary for knowledge workers to be in a continuous learning mode. Government agencies often find themselves unable to hire new technical workers, and at the same time there is a decline in training of existing employees.

When it comes to closing the skills gap in strategic positions, it is crucial to understand that not all jobs are created equally. At the same time, not all jobs being filled within the company are critical to achieving your strategy. It is therefore important to match your best people with the most strategically critical jobs. The starting point involves identifying those positions that are pivotal to ensuring the successful execution of key processes as set forth in the Internal Process perspective of your strategy map.  Every trainer will know that finding seat time and ensuring understanding has become a challenge. As training is seen as a necessary component of doing the right thing with an individual’s data, it has resulted in many companies examining the number of training modules, their length, and quantifying “non-productive time.” This shift has required privacy program trainers to do the minimum by getting a short, non-engaging computer-based-training to the masses, without considering the audience. The one-size-fits-all approach is the quickest, but mostly ineffective, a method for meeting privacy training requirements.

In response to computer-based training, employees have become “click fatigued” by racing through their training modules to receive their completion certificate and move-on, without an understanding of why and how the training will impact their work. Training leaders have implicitly supported this practice through publishing metrics on completion percentages, rather than gauging understanding, which later may result in potential consequences of non-compliance with internal policies or regulators. The “golden days” of pulling staff into a training room and delivering live training on adherence to privacy regulations and company policy is gone. However, there are many ways privacy programs can engage and connect with employees, while still being mindful of the budget and impact on employees’ productivity. This requires innovation and the willingness of the privacy office to seek out new opportunities.

Senior leaders need to understand the reason for why training is needed, such as a regulatory requirement, risk reduction, best practice, or it is merely the right thing to do. Companies handling information about its customers, employees, or other stakeholders are obligated to do the right thing, which is ensuring there are proper training and awareness regarding the ethical use of data.

Review what training topics need to be covered as well as the audience. It is essential for trainers to understand the landscape and the target audience. Training time is limited, and organizations must assess where to spend their time and money.

Training employees for success goes beyond simply counting the number of training hours per month, per quarter, per half year or per full year. This is unlikely to lead to sustained business success. What managers need to do is, after the training program, assess and evaluate a change in behavior; a demonstration of the new skills or knowledge in action and an improvement in results. This helps determine the effectiveness of the training program, focus future training in specific areas to bolster skills and knowledge and ultimately improve the company’s future performance. Assess innovative ways to provide training and awareness. Remember, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Take time to work with senior leaders, middle management, and front line staff to determine current levels of understanding regarding privacy rights or knowledge of the policy. Hold structured, focused meetings on gauging awareness and gain buy-in for different methods to provide messaging.

Innovate. Seems simple enough but how innovation occurs mostly depends on leadership support and cultural buy-in. Change takes time, and it’s crucial to obtain the Chief Privacy Officer or company officer’s buy-in to try different tactics. Start slow, take a practical approach, adjust, and deliver an enhanced product. The training opportunities must often occur, using different techniques. Also, do not be afraid of failure. Adjust as necessary but celebrate if you get only one convert as that individual becomes your advocate.


Article by Busayo Tomoh

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