FOR MANY YEARS CONSULTANTS AND EXPERTS HAVE TRIED TO CONVINCE LEADERS THAT TRAINING CAN IMPACT PERFORMANCE. IT SEEMS LIKE THE PROBLEM IS NO LONGER THAT THEY DON’T BELIEVE THAT TRAINING IS IMPORTANT, BUT THAT NOW THOSE SAME LEADERS THING THAT TRAINING IS THE “CURE-ALL” OR “SILVER-BULLET.”
“What has made people think that training people will magically make them more effective, efficient and overall higher performing?”
Well, we told them it would. But, we did too good of a job. We have too many people thinking that “training is a cure-all” for all leadership sins.
TRAINING FEELS LIKE THE RIGHT THING
My team is not performing up to expectations…
Well, train them to perform better!
My team is suffering from low morale…
Well, train them… Of course!
Uhm… Really??? Do you actually think that ‘training is the cure-all?
Leaders and organizations are so concerned about making quick changes and hitting quarterly numbers that they are always looking for the fastest way to make employees “better.”
Training feels like the right thing. And in some cases it can be, But this is the case only if it used properly. Remember that it is an arrow in the quiver that is needed to solve organizational issues and not just the the bow and arrow.
About $5.6 billion to $16.8 billion is wasted annually on ineffective training programs. ~Cary Cherniss, Rutgers University
According to improvement consultant Jim Clemmer, most organizations use their training investments about as strategically as they deploy their office supplies spending.
In the end, the impact on customer satisfaction, cost containment, or quality improvement is just as useless.
USING TRAINING WISELY
Training is an excellent way to help people increase their skill or learn about a big change. It is not a method to change behavior, And it is certainly not effective without set up and follow up.
A great way to think about using training is this:
• Develop an overall plan to alter organizational performance, introduce effective processes, and show how training will fit in.
• Make sure that people understand why they are being trained.
• Create the training course so that they have a tangible outcome or things they can use right away.
• Discuss the training with the group or individual very soon after the training.
• Set new expectations for performance once the training is completed.
• Allow time for the training to take.
• Communicate with people as if the training has worked.
“Training as a stand alone tool is like trying lose weight with exercise alone.”
It’s a lot of work and only gets you 20 to 30 percent of the solution desired. In order train in the most effective way, your training needs to be part of a larger plan designed for a particular outcome. It is a great tool to support change or introduce new concepts.
The key is that training needs to be put into context of the larger effort.
Just remember these three simple rules if you want to succeed:
1. You can train skill; You cannot train will.
2. Training is a great tool, but not the only tool for change
3. Training is not magic and will NOT solve every problem. You can’t train away the blues.
Organizations that use training as the panacea will quickly see that people will not take to the training and in turn, resent it.
So, do you have a strategy for the training systems that you use? Does your training plan fit into a larger organizational strategy? Are you making sure that the training that you pay for is being used effectively? Are you paying enough attention to the ROI of your training budget? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This blog also appears on the Linked2Leadership Blog. Please visit them!
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.
Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.