Training is NOT the answer… well not always
Now, you’re probably thinking, “How can MEA’s Director of Training dismiss training?”
It’s easy! Over the past 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of companies in delivering training initiatives, from a diaper plant, to an accounting firm, to a police station, to a call center. I’m talking depth, width and variety. Out of this array, I have seen a select group of companies do it right. Meaning: they achieved results and a return on investment.
So if training is not the answer, what is? What did these companies do that got them results?
A pattern revealed itself. These companies all did two basic things. It was not the training itself, but it was what came before and after the training that supported success.
#1. – Before the training: ASSESS
Is training the answer, or is it something else?
Take for example company ABC who catches a bad case of low morale. What if their HR manager made an assumption that training was the answer. It wouldn’t be unusual to throw some team building at the problem. And, it might be the fix, if it was due to long term baby boomers coming up against newly hired millennials. But, what if the cause was due to something else? What if it was an antiquated database that was getting in the way? In this case, training would be a disaster, wasting everybody’s time, energy and money.
At MEA, a concerned owner, exec or HR director will call us to order a training workshop. Their intent: to repair what’s broken. As an objective adviser, we won’t rest easy with a quick fix without having a full understanding. Our goal is to get to the root cause; it is not to slap a training band aid on the problem. It could be as simple as asking a few targeted questions, or conducting a needs assessment, an engagement survey or even a formal investigation. Each of these approaches would have the same goal: to get to the source of the problem and not just focus on the symptoms.
Once the situation has been properly assessed, and training is determined to be the appropriate approach, then successful training companies consider #2 – application (transfer of training) and coaching.
#2. – APPLICATION & COACHING
Allow time for practice & offer support through coaching
Training is merely information. It is not until a person applies what they have learned and receives timely feedback on their efforts, that they develop a new skill or behavior.
Training = Information
Training + (Application + Coaching) = New Skills & Behaviors
At times, we see participants come to MEA with nothing more than an email invitation. A clear explanation has not been set; their manager has not been involved in the process; and the employee doesn’t know why they are there. This employee is being set up for failure.
It has been estimated that while American industries annually spend over $100 billion on training, not more than 10% of these expenditures actually result in transfer to the job, according to Baldwin & Ford. To achieve success, manager involvement is critical to: 1) set expectations, 2) encourage application and practice, and 3) coach through providing feedback.
According to Gladwell, author of the Outliers, for true experts to achieve success, one thing they had in common was the chance to apply their skills with lots of practice. From the Beatles to Bill Gates, Gladwell in his research uncovered a pattern – a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice for these high achievers. When we think of the best athletes, musicians, or doctors, we know that they have had a plenty of opportunity to apply what they’ve learned. They then transfer the learning to their craft or work.
Important to note, US training organizations grew their spending by 12% in 2012, the highest growth rate in the last 8 years, according to Bersin of Deloitte. Bottom line, we know that training is necessary as we see the need for highly skilled labor, and college graduates who need further development coming out of school not fully prepared for work. If choosing to train, choose to spend time up-front assessing the problem, and choose to engage managers to coach and encourage application through practice. This way you can be sure training is the answer!
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://meainfo.org/app/uploads/2014/01/marian-vallotton.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marian VallottonDirector of Training & Organizational Developmentmvallotton@meainfo.org[/author_info] [/author]