Saraubh Sharma outlines how to fix a few easy mistakes that are often made in corporate training.
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“If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less”. Alarming words there by General Eric Shinseki, who is now on a mission for modernising the Veteran Affairs division of the United States Army.
Living as we are in a time of rapid technological change where the danger of becoming out dated is ever present, there is no option but to stay updated. This is not only the case for your professional careers, but holds good even for your personal lives.
Just to put things in perspective, companies in the U.S. spent a staggering amount – $70bn to be precise – in 2016 on training. That’s just about how important corporate training programs are. In order to be fair, another statistic needs to be mentioned in the same breath – In less than a year, staff members forget as much as 90% of the new skills they learned in the training program.
You must clearly and completely define the objectives of the corporate training program before starting.
Now, that’s the money going down the psychological drain. They say, the learning curve is steep and it takes time and tons of patience to get up there. But, as is always the case, coming down from the top is not that tough, you just have to slide effortlessly. When you get to the bottom though, you realise that you are out of touch with the ground level realities. That is to say, you are irrelevant.
Forewarned is forearmed. If you get your ears close to the ground and look for early warning signs, you will hear and see indications of whether your program is proceeding along the right path or if it needs course correction. Here are three of the most categorical tell tale signs that your training program is headed along an unwanted trajectory, and the measures to bring it back on track:
- Failure to categorically define objectives: You must clearly and completely define the objectives of the corporate training program before starting. If you don’t know where to go, even the best of vehicles cannot get you there. Much before day one, be crystal clear on what you need to achieve through the training exercise:
Are you training your staff for effectively handling new technology/ software that will improve their productivity?
Do you intend to get your staff on board for peculiar project requirements?
Is your training related to making your employees understand and implement a new management concept?
The number of points in this list can be countless. More than that, have metrics in place to measure the degree to which the training has served its function. Plus, put in place the duration over which you expect your employees to achieve a certain goal.
Take for example the following objective: ‘Improve the employee performance score on new ERP software operate-ability.’ Such a goal is pointless because it does not clearly describe how much improvement to expect and by when. The cleverly lazy among your staff will always hide their stagnant score through the excuse, ‘I am still improving.’
Contrast the vague objective with the following one which includes a metric and time limit: ‘Improve the minimum employee performance score on new ERP software operate-ability to 78% within four weeks of the commencement of training.’
It goes without saying that your employees will get the message – demonstrate your improvement through your scores within the stipulated time frame or face the music. If something can be measured, it can be improved. Through time bound objectives, you can further refine the efficacy of your objectives.
- Allocation of limited resources: There was this sticker/ image doing the rounds on social media some years ago. It showed a tiger on the left side and said ‘client expectations.’ On the right, it placed a cat and said ‘client budget.’ Never lose sight of the sense of proportion. Resources will take the form of funds, time, training material, training faculty (if any), tests for checking improvements, and the like. Make sure, you have all these in sufficient quantity. Here are a few tips:
You cannot expect employee performances to spike in one day. Allocate sufficient time. In the above mentioned objective, it will be pointless for all employees to have a minimum 78% score in software operation within a week. If the deadline is too short, your training programme is likely to fail.
How fair is it to hire cheap trainers and expect them to work miracles on your employees? When something sounds too good to be true, more often than not, it is.If the trainer you are hiring makes fantastic claims, he is most probably lying and your training programme will end in disaster. Call the bluff before it makes a failure out of your programme.
Don’t expect correct results by applying incorrect performance metrics. This is closely related to the first two points. Unless you allot adequate funds and do your due diligence before hiring the suitable training agency, you will not access a set of metrics that best captures the up-gradation journey of your staff members. And, as mentioned earlier, what cannot be measured, cannot be improved. Check if the metrics are relevant to the context of your organisation.
- Incomplete follow up actions: The one best way to maintain follow up actions is to have employees start practicing their newly acquired skills on the job. And to have them do this immediately. That way, they get used to actually applying what they learn.
Any idea is only as good as its execution. And, any training is only as good as its follow up.
Being proactive can often make the difference between success and failure. If you start auditing the training program after its completion, you have already lost more than half the battle. Watch out for these signs and you will save tons of funds, time, and vexation.
About the author
Saurabh Sharma is an Email Marketer with Techjockey.com.