After working with numerous organizations and industries, i have seen some common factors among successful training organizations and companies where training doesn’t make an impact. Here is why companies fail at training:
- No needs assessment: A doctor who prescribes medicine without seeing a patient is guilty of malpractice. Yet, so many companies hire vendors to provide training without first analyzing the needs of the organization, department, or the individual. This is a waste of training money. Do not proceed to training until you assess the needs.
- Training is always the answer: Have a problem? Quick! Find a training program. One of the biggest myths is that training can fix everything. Managers must first assess if the problem is a training issue or an organizational problem. Let’s say you have a problem with customer service. Reps are not servicing the customers in a timely manner. You decide to train them in telephone skills. Right before the training you discover there are not enough phone lines to handle the recent influx of inquiries. This is not a training issue. It’s an organizational issue. Revamp the telecommunications system.
- Training is reactive: Training must support the business objectives if it is to have impact. True learning organizations build training into the strategic plan. What is the company mission and where are the skill gaps? Training must be integrated, holistic, and part of long term planning if it is to make a difference. Training is an investment in the business-not an expense.
- Training is a one-shot deal: Some companies believe that you can send someone to a two-day program and they will be changed like magic. Sorry. There are no magic wands. Think of when you first learned to drive. There was the readiness stage (written test). This is equivalent to pre-work. Then you took as many lessons as you needed to learn how to drive the car. This is training implementation. Finally, you received your license. But you weren’t a driver.
You needed someone to go out with you until you refined your skills. This is coaching. Then one day, you could drive effortlessly. This is called mastery. Why would employees learn differently? Training must be reinforced. According to training research, learning that is not reinforced within the first four to six weeks’ drops by 80 percent! Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. To maximize training benefits, provide ongoing coaching or follow-up.
- Failure to measure results: Most organizations spend thousands on training employees never to know if what they did worked. How well are employees using the skills? How is it improving their work? What is the impact on the department and company? In other words, was the training worth it?
- Management does not participate: Successful learning organizations support training at the most senior levels. Without support, morale decreases and training has little or no impact. Support is evidenced in several ways. Employees are required to complete several hours of training per year. Training is built into the performance appraisal and is reinforced back on the job by the manager.
If you want to increase company sales and productivity, provide training that is supported by your top executive, preferably International certifications.