Cordell Riley discusses that all-important training issue: alignment.
There are really two kinds of training. The first and most basic centres on teaching employees to improve their performance of required skills and tasks. The second kind of training does that too, but produces far more transformational results, because it also teaches skills and behaviors that align with larger company initiatives and goals.
Here’s an analogy that demonstrates my point. First think of a golf caddy as a trainer. That caddy can walk the course and hand his golfer one club at a time and say, ‘This is the best club for this shot.’ That might improve the golfer’s game.
But if the caddy is thinking about the golfer’s goal to par a very tough hole, he may add a higher level of information by giving perspective on the overall layout of the hole, the potential hazards in the path, and even a strategy for playing the entire course. Suddenly, the player’s performance rises to a new level.
Good training can deliver similar results. It can happen if you create training that transforms your organisation by aligning what people learn with larger company goals. Here are some critically important steps to take.
Keep your most important objectives in mind
Another way of stating this principle is, ‘begin with the end in mind.’ That means that instead of starting by defining only skills, work toward a bigger vision of what you would like your organisation to become.
As long as you are providing training, why not align it with company priorities?
If you are training your call centre staff to handle incoming calls, for example, you could teach people to answer a set of expected questions. But if you are also trying to build a company that will be known for delivering superlative customer service, build that bigger picture into what you are training your people to do.
Break down the silo walls
Trainers often are brought into different company sectors and encouraged to stay in them. They might teach skills for servicing or installing products, providing customer service, preparing food, or selling on the retail floor. But what if your trainers also thought outside the silos and delivered a bigger picture of what is taking place across the organisation?
For example, what if your product installers knew how to turn customers into repeat customers?
Don’t create training in a vacuum
Whether your training developers work in-house, or you use an outside training company, engage them in conversations about quarterly reports, company whitepapers and publications, news stories about your organisation, press releases, and all the other pertinent documents you can provide. In sum, do all those materials suggest any untapped opportunities to them for aligning your training with larger goals?
Tie your training to measureable metrics
Here are some suggestions for metrics that don’t just gather data, but reveal deeper progress:
- If your vision is to become a leader in customer service and retention, you can survey customers before and after training about their overall satisfaction with their last purchase, the likelihood they will recommend you to other customers, and other considerations that apply.
- If you want to become recognised as a provider of the most advanced equipment, you can survey customers before and after training to determine whether their knowledge of your products’ features has increased due to the way they were sold.
- If you are implementing HR training to increase employee retention and attract more job-seekers, you can measure retention rates before and after training, survey employees on metrics like, ‘I see a clear career path if I remain employed’ or, ‘I understand the criteria that my supervisor and company use to evaluate my performance and progress in the company.
Create training that embodies the big picture
Ultimately, you can have small training, or you can have big training. As long as you are providing training, why not align it with company priorities? It is a value-added proposition and you cannot lose.
About the author
Cordell Riley is owner and president of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina.