According to the 2017 Training Industry Report, companies in the USA have spent over $90 billion on employee training and development, and the spending keeps on increasing year on year. Training and development of employees do have some significant advantages, as the exercise enables you to build a highly competitive workforce. Also, it improves employee retention and increases employee engagement. However, there are two perspectives of employee training. It is helpful at times, but often, it fails to address your issues and won’t resolve any challenges.
The leaders of the industry view training as an obvious ground to improve the training force through new learning opportunities and addressing behavioural problems. For example, a company might build a training program for its employees that focuses more on entrepreneurial aspects and less on bureaucratic stuff to train people to be empowered and make their own decisions. They might hope for an outcome of this training program where decision-making is faster. This is where a training program cannot help as it is not the right way to introduce such behaviour.
Training is a powerful medium when you are absolutely sure that learning a new skill or filling that deficit of knowledge can help you with your challenges and objectives. A well-designed customised training program is relevant for such situations, which offers suitable training material and cases to build the skills and provide a final measurement of the skill acquired. And continuing with the above example, one should learn the root cause of their issue before investing in a training program. If the problem is more with ineffective decision-making and a narrowly distributed authority, a training program will be an unlikely solution here. Issues like having no technologies to move information quickly to make quick decisions and no measurable expectations of employees’ decisions are things that can’t be solved with a training program.
Learning your issues and addressing your problems with a customised training program will seamlessly help your organisation achieve its goals and objectives. And if the training program isn’t in line with your issues, there are more chances of it to backfire and cause even more problems within the management. Learning is a consequence of thinking and not teaching. When people reflect on teaching, they learn a new behaviour. But if the challenge at hand or the work environment doesn’t support the newly discovered behaviour, then the highly trained employee won’t make a difference. Here are three things that will ensure employee training works:
1. Support for newly learnt behaviour
Witnessing unwanted behaviour will spark the need for change in the organisation. However, the origin of this behaviour may not be because of a lack of skill. Several factors influence an individual’s behaviour in an organisation. Established managers, communication skills, following the priorities are some of the factors that affect an individual’s behaviour. Also, factors like cultural values and how performance is measured and rewarded, and the levels of hierarchy in management can also affect one’s behaviour at work. Coming back to the example mentioned above, people had issues with decision-making because they did not know how to do it, not because of disempowerment. The company’s decision-making process made them behave in a different way. Multiple levels of approval for tactical decisions led to limited access to information for managers at a higher hierarchy. The culture required permission for every aspect. Unless these issues were resolved, a workshop would be useless.
2. Commit to change
Once an organisation undergoes a thorough assessment, it will reveal what skills the employees will have to develop and the condition that the organisation must reinforce and sustain the newly acquired skills through training and implementation. However, not all organisations will be open to changing this behaviour even after recognising the factors driving them. Some may think that a workshop will help drive the momentum and address the issues later when it’s time. However, any amount of train will not yield its potential if the ground to break it in is not ready.
3. Training solves your strategic priorities
When an organisation is deploying a new strategy like venturing into a new market or launching a new product, training the employees will help them be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to help the strategy succeed. However, if the training does not have a purpose or an end goal, the risk of failure rises. For example, if your employees feel overworked and stressed, blessing them with a training session to help them relieve their stress is not what you should be aiming at. Instead, work towards the reason why your employees are feeling stressed and overworked. Even though your intentions to help your employees with the stress levels is good, directly working towards the cause of the problem will help in the long term. Trying to offer your employees a distraction will only help in a short time. If you are a manager, direct your energy on determining the factors and reasons behind the slack in work and address them accordingly, rather than looking for a quick fix. Offering your employees training to manage stress and focus on what they lack can significantly help an organisation.
If you are an organisation going to invest millions in dollars in training, be confident that it will be addressing all the strategic learning needs. Ensure that the training is directly resolving your issues and helping your organisation in the long run. Furthermore, be assured that your organisations will have the environment to sustain your employees’ new skills and knowledge through training. Address the broader issues that threaten your success and building a training foundation for your employees that helps them use their newly acquired skills to their full potential. And if you are not confident about these conditions, then do not invest your money in training. It won’t be fruitful and will result in monetary losses. Look at the bigger picture when investing in training and built a foundation that sustains what’s learnt.
About the Author
Rohit Chandiramani is the CEO of London Business Training & management course. Having completed his MBA, not only is Rohit a student of Business and Management, but through his firm has also facilitated the delivery of the subject matter to hundreds of learners over the years. A regular trekker, he likes to scale greater heights in the Himalayas, and in the world of business.