Training for the sake of training doesn’t do anyone any favours and it more often than not results in minimal overall change of behavior. Just saying “we need better trained employees” isn’t the end; it’s only the beginning. Yes, you could need better trained employees but you still haven’t answered the fundamental questions “why?” and “what does this mean for the organization as a whole?”
The fact is that for training to reach its maximum effectiveness, it needs to align with business objectives. The next question is “how do we do it?” which is tied very closely with another important question “How do we hold people accountable and how do we measure this effectiveness?”
Very rarely does anyone ever board an airplane without a destination in mind. The goal of a vacation isn’t simply “to go to Mexico”; rather it is “to go to Mexico and take my mind off of life’s stresses for a few weeks so that when I come back I am refreshed and happier”. The key difference between the two descriptions is that what someone gets out of it is more clearly defined.
If goals are not aligned with business objectives then they can run the risk of low morale, lost opportunities, and low performance. This in turn leads to a less than reasonable return on their investment.
In the case of organizational training, we need to take a backwards looking approach to help and define what are the business objectives are and how will training help us reach those objectives. For instance, if an organization’s goal is to increase productivity while at the same time reducing expenses, then any training related needs to have that end goal in mind.
Getting Things Done
- Establish A Clear Vision Of Your Purpose And Goals
If you don’t know your destination, how will you know if and when you get there? Sometimes these goals may not be clear to you depending on your position in the organization. If this is the case then there may be the need to do some research on your part. Talk to the right people and look in the right places. This could include consulting relevant documentation like like business plans (overall and departmental) in addition to being very clear on the corporate strategy. Depending on the industry, the strategy can change depending on market forces or other factors.
- Mapping Out The Plan
With the destination clarified, the task then becomes how to get there by marrying up both the strategic and tactical initiatives. If you will be using the services of an external learning system, then you need to know how qualified they are to tailor a system that fits your business strategy.Whether you are developing a training program externally or using an external help, the focus should always be on effective behavioral change that advances your strategic cause.
- Getting Buy In
The next challenge is to understand and deal with the resistance that follows any attempt at changing behaviour, part of which deals with buy in to support the initiative. This may be even more difficult if their company culture is highly cynical due to failed training in the past. An employee needs to know their personal gain or “what’s in it for me?” in order to catch their attention to support the initiative and foster better learning.
- Follow Up
A training manager should follow up with the department managers and supervisors within 24 hours to help to answer any questions they have regarding the training. Additionally, by connecting with the participants involved, you can determine what actions have been taken since the last training session in order to effect long-lasting learning.
In order for a training program to be effective and aligned with business objectives, a training manager needs to clearly understand the vision of the training; understand how it relates to the company’s mission; know what it takes to reach those business goals; and know how and why people learn. The path to this clarity is to have a direct communication path with the CEO.
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photo credit: Jardin des Tuileries @ Paris