Q. Do companies get the most out of the training dollar that they ante up for their employees?

Answer…. No!

Whilst training per se, is perceived to be important, as evidenced by the volume of training that occurs throughout industry, I feel that companies are still not getting “the biggest bang for their buck” from the training that they provide their employees.
Training is provided regularly for employees to attend  for the benefit of the company and also of the employees and in completing the course the employee(s) will leave with some new knowledge and skills or perhaps with prior knowledge being challenged, changed, reinforced or enhanced.
What then happens though when these people get back into the workforce? Do they then apply this new learning or do they go back into their comfort zones continuing to do what they did before?

If there is no compulsion to utilize their training, then it is quite possible that those people who have received the training may not use it, as trying anything new or different often requires more initial effort and it is possible, even probable, that they may get it wrong to start with and become disillusioned by the experience. Practise takes time and we are typically, across industries, time poor.
Unless people are given the time and opportunity to practise, using and perfecting these new skills, then there is the chance that they won’t use it of their own volition.

Is this the outcome that we desire?
Change will only occur when the pain from changing becomes less than the pain of staying the same. Change will occur when there is enough motivation for that change.
As a facilitator of the Apollo Root cause Analysis methodology, interaction with the attendees would suggest that those who complete the training are then often perceived to be experts at it, even to the  point of being thrown into the deep end of the next big incident that occurs…….”you ‘ve had the training”! Comments also suggest that time is also a big factor. That is to say that there is a feeling among course attendees that there will be little time given to do the root cause analysis. They expect a lack of support from administrators (in the form of time) who have different agendas.
A few hours or days of training and practise however makes no-one an expert in anything.  It is the constant application or use of this training that will create competence in its use. Does this then suggest that they are being set-up to fail?
All of this boils down to the question about what structures exist within the company to support the training (any type of training) that is being provided?

The training itself starts people along on a learning curve and progresses them to a point along that curve with as many variations as there are people attending the training as to where they sit along that curve, at the completion of the training program.

Important questions to ask as you embark on a training course:

  • Who reinforces this learning or monitors the standard of facilitation and the reports that are generated?
  • Who provides any feedback or confirms and endorses the process or endorses the outcomes that are generated from it?
  • Is there a mentor or ‘expert’ to provide the appropriate feedback?
  • Is there a compulsion to use or demonstrate competency in the use of the training material they have learned?

If there is no strategy in place to address the questions above then do we move training attendees from where they sit along that learning curve to application of excellence in the subject matter that they were trained in? Surely this is the end goal.
Unless organisational structures exist to support the training then much of it is predestined to fail and not live up to the expected outcomes that generated the initial interest for the training in the first place.

If 6, 12 or even 18 months down the track the training received is not being used then what will the perception be? The perception at that time may be that the training was “poor”, “of little value”, “too hard” or “didn’t work” and so on. The training is then perceived as being inadequate and consequently that particular training package is not sourced again or may be sourced from an alternative supplier supplying a similar product to attempt to provide what was initially sought after. This type of approach affects repeat business opportunities for the contractor providing the training and in effect may damage the training provider’s reputation as well.

If this cycle were to continue, (which it inevitably does) without making changes to how training is presented and managed, in a few years the client company will be back to square one and lining up for another go at a training package that was presented  at some time previously.

Does this ring any bells with anybody??

It is my opinion that it is not necessarily the training that is at fault here, but perhaps the lack of effective support for the training.

Support that would move people systematically from their early learning’s into application of excellence in its practise and use. If the training is seen to be important enough to conduct, then surely this support is where the client company ensures the biggest bang for the training buck!

What is the purpose of the training? Is it to bring about some change in the people being trained? Is it to cover/correct perceived weaknesses in learning? Upskilling? For whatever the reason the training is being conducted the training must be perceived to have value. Then why is it that there is limited or non-existent support for much of the training that is conducted??
Written by Jack Jager
Apollo trainer and facilitator with ARMS Reliability

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