A job half done – when companies only go part way for training

Balancing competing priorities and interests within an organisation can be hard, so how can Learning and Development professionals get creative in order to respond to the challenge? 

Training programmes can be incredibly beneficial for organisations, but tight budgets and time constraints make it difficult to properly implement them. One of the issues organisations face is the amount of time and resource needed. Training can be costly for businesses, and learning and development practitioners are often under a lot of pressure to change their preferred solutions.

This leads to potentially difficult conversations with the organisation, as you have to explain that in order for the training to really be successful, certain corners can’t be cut. It can be daunting for L&D providers to object, but for everybody’s benefit, you need to have that tricky talk and avoid the ‘job half done’. This article covers two common scenarios and how trainers can deal with them.

1. Requests for training courses to be condensed

Due to the amount of time and research needed to hold a training event, as well as the time employees are out of the office, it is becoming more common for organisations to try and cut the length of a course. Many in the L&D industry will recognise the requests to condense a two-day course into just a day or half-day.

It then falls to the trainer to explain why this wouldn’t work and come up with alternative solutions. You don’t need to come right out with it and say “that’s a bad idea” or “no”, but you can persuasively get your point across by talking about the risks.

It would be impossible to cram two days worth of topics into a quarter of the time. The half-day would become more a rushed lecture than a full interactive learning experience, and the likelihood is that no positive change would take place as a result. Once the person who has requested the half-day knows that it would waste both the time and resources of the organisation, they are much more likely to reassess.

If after this discussion, there is still only the option of a half-day event, ask that they choose the part of the content of the 2-day event that is needed the most. Prioritising in this way enables staff to get the training they require most, with the option to complete more topics in future.

2. When more support is needed for the employee

If the training is trying to change behaviour, a one-off intervention is unlikely to be effective – preparatory steps and follow-ups will be needed. Sometimes, organisations can push back on this, seeing it as extra resource spent that could be used elsewhere. Luckily, learning and development teams are ideally placed to be creative when organising that further development. It doesn’t have to be expensive or be ‘formal’ training – instead there are a number of ways to make sure the learning transfers out of the classroom and into the workplace.

Many of these solutions can be done using an organisation’s own resources, and working with other departments. Before a training event, everybody needs to be clear on why the training is needed. It is best for Line managers to have one-on-one conversations to explain the opportunity and reasoning behind the training (this should happen in any case!).

They can also make clear what difference the organisation will be looking for, and ask how the staff member is feeling and what support they will need to use this learning in their day to day work.

Other preparation could include asking people to do some prior reading or questionnaires, so that by the time they are taking part in the event they are prepped and know why they are there. A good trainer needs to talk about what will actually help implement change, and line managers are crucial in that process, to provide opportunities and encouragement to implement the learning.

To follow up on the training, you can set up a buddy system so people on the course can hold each other to account, or coaching groups where employees meet up after the training to discuss what they have done to implement the training, and how it went.

Follow up webinars could also be useful to gather opinion – how the training was useful, how easy or challenging they are finding implementing the learning, what further training/ support they need and so on. This could be facilitated by a trainer, a line manager, a delegate or HR.

When the above is put into practice, the best results are gained. The training event itself is simply a passing on of knowledge and practising of skills. For an attendee to gain fully from the training experience, line managers need to be involved in the whole process.

It is always to everybody’s advantage to be honest and explain what measures are needed for the training to have a positive effect. By getting creative with those measures, you can strike the right balance and keep the organisation happy whilst delivering quality training. HR and line managers are allies, and it’s in their interest for the staff training to be successful, so don’t be afraid to ask for their support.

About the author:

Vicky Roberts, head of V-Learning at Vista



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