Why doesn’t employee training work better?
Companies spend about $100 billion on training of all sorts annually. Yet most executives would admit, some willingly, that they don’t get the bang for the buck they expect from their investment.
What is missing? Why do well-intentioned, well-constructed, well-run training programs fail to deliver expected bumps in productivity?
Look at preparation, commitment and follow-up
We lay the blame not in the training room (good work happens there more often than not) but in the preparatory work before the event, and the follow-up afterwards. In short, here are the missing elements we demand clients pay attention too before a single session is scheduled:
- Rigorous Diagnosis: If you do not properly diagnose the problems that hinder increased productivity, you will not create and apply the right training regime. Buying prepackaged solutions off the shelf that seemed to work for others will at the very least require restructuring to fit your culture and the key issues you seek to address.
- Executive Buy-in and Involvement: Unless you have this, you have nothing. Your bosses must roll up their sleeves and model the behavior and effort they want to see up and down the ranks. The ranks will reject the training regime as “another waste of time foisted on us by our clueless leaders” if this executive commitment is not clearly demonstrated.
- Relentless Tracking: You cannot measure a return on your investment unless you track the changes in behavior and results that occur after each training session. At Bovo-Tighe, we only know that our employee development programs work because we demand that our clients put an organized tracking program in place.
We found excellent support for our thinking in a recent report from the management consultancy McKinsey (yes, good ideas do come out of our friendly high-priced competitors!)
We encourage clients to take the time to do serious up-front diagnosis to pinpoint the true problems, and commit to in-depth tracking of results post-event. Without these pre- and post-event commitments, development wastes everyone’s time and gives “training” a bad reputation that it does not deserve. Without strong diagnosis ahead of training to properly structure it, strong senior executive backing and involvement, and strong tracking post-event, the program can not eliminate the problem work habits or install the critical good new habits that productivity improvements demand.