December 4th, 2018
    Learning Management

The ideal time companies should invest in training

Victoria Kossoff 4 min read

In recent years, investment in training has been put under pressure by the unprecedented business environment. There is a growing notion that training is not worthwhile, when skills are transferable, and money could be spent elsewhere.

But this is a false economy. We want to belong. We want to feel valued. We want to be somewhere we can make a difference. And if you are leading a team of millennials, it’s even more critical for you to reflect your willingness to understand what’s important to them. Simon Sinek does a good job of summarising what millennials are expecting from the people who lead them in this video. And with over 10 million views, this has got to be a hot topic.

The commitment to making all of this happen with a well-established personal development culture is the best way to retain and engage employees.

The impact of training on employees and the organisation can be described by this skills calculation:

Highly skilled workforce + improved processes = better customer experience + higher staff retention

Leads to

Experienced staff + happy customers = positive impact on the bottom line

So, then, is training the answer to solving every skills issue in an organisation? For what purposes, and in which circumstances, should we develop training programs? How do we know when it is right to train our people – and when we should be looking elsewhere for improvements?

Invest in training when…

  • You are addressing a strategic learning need.  If you have a specific skill set required to implement a new product, software or business venture, then a training course is clearly in order. Identify the clear business goal that the training supports: then define the tasks, training activities and behaviours that will be established.
  • There is a clear program goal. There should be a clear problem that should be fixed by the training program. The goal should be obvious to everyone involved, with learning objectives for the individual and the organisation. There should be a clear understanding of how the training investment will be made worthwhile.
  • There is an established 70:20:10 ratio in personal development. A training course must not stand in isolation. A structure of personal development, supported by your performance management process, should see 10% of development come from formal training – alongside on-the-job experiences (70%) and mentoring or other semi-formal training opportunities (20%).
  • You have the right technology to provide an interactive, immersive and engaging training experience. The right authoring tools should exist within an established L&D framework to cover the learning needs of the entire organisation.
  • There is a clear performance gap. Training should be targeted to the impacted individuals through a thorough training needs analysis. Be careful with people’s time. Don’t train everyone identically: inform some; train some; make some specialists, champions or super-users.

The commitment to making all of this happen with a well-established personal development culture is the best way to retain and engage employees.

Don’t invest in training if…

  • There is no commitment to change. With any training program, the ability of leaders to lead by example and role model desired behaviours is essential to embedding new skills. If your leaders are failing to demonstrate their commitment to change, you have an issue that will not be resolved through training.
  • The underlying issue is one of corporate culture. Cultural issues such as lack of individual autonomy or poor decision-making systems can often present as training issues. However, attempt to tackle the skills and behaviours without understanding the cultural barriers, and the training will, inevitably, be ineffective.
  • There is no understanding of the root cause of the issue. I was reading recently about a large multinational who recently invested in a global management development program to help people deal with difficult emotions. However, it was implemented without any acknowledgement for why their managers were experiencing stress, mental health issues or poor work-life balance. The training was very uncomfortable for many learners and created a difficult atmosphere whereby they felt they were not being listened to. The immediate problem was being addressed, without the underlying cause being understood.
  • The training program doesn’t address “what’s in it for me”. To be truly engaged, learners need to understand the context for the training, and how they will benefit personally (as well as the benefits to the organisation). For example, a training course could be created to implement an organisational change, that will cause an increased workload or uncertainty. The danger here is if this were rolled out in isolation, without understanding the needs of the impacted individuals. Ensure the context for training is well-examined.

The commitment from an organisation to train and develop their internal employees is essential and commendable, given the extent of the strain on corporate budgets. But investment in training must be done wisely. \

Some people would call it “throwing good money after bad”: training programs that exist to fulfil a behavioural or process-related need, that doesn’t address the underlying procedural or cultural issues.

If you have a specific business requirement for new skills, then you have an environment for successful training.  If you are seeing ineffective leadership, retention problems, or employee dissatisfaction, then training is not where you need to be looking. Investigate the cultural environment first to answer the “why” before ploughing ahead with the “what”. If you require new behaviours from your employees but don’t understand why issues are occurring or exactly what problem you are trying to resolve, then now is not the right time to train. Spend your time wisely by analysing the problem thoroughly so you can identify what learners need to know. Then it’s easier to identify what they need to do. Only then can you determine if the problem really is a lack of knowledge.

At The Learning Factor, we simplify the business of learning. We craft exceptional training solutions that solve critical business challenges across all touchpoints, screens, and devices.

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