Image credits: GETTY IMAGES (POBA)
For most organizations, training leadership is similar to building culture — both are nice to have, but usually lost amid day-to-day operations.
In the Fortune 100 company I recently visited, things were different.
As one of the highest-performing companies in the world, this organization knew the value of training leaders. They hired passionate and highly-educated folks to ensure everyone, from senior executives down to line management, had the training they would need to succeed.
There was a problem, though — a problem that most organizations face: They didn’t know if their training was producing results.
The Association For Talent Development estimates that $164 billion a year is spent training employees, and most of that money is wasted because organizations are training their people without measuring impact.
Their training departments, like the one I was meeting with, are great at delivering workshops, but few are ever taught how to ensure their efforts are making a difference.
How do we reverse this and ensure training dollars are well-spent?
A. Decide what needs to change
Providing training for the sake of training is like exercising for the sake of exercising. We know it’s healthy, but running to prepare for a marathon does no good if your task is to climb a mountain. Before designing a training course, decide what change in behavior you want to see. Work from the end to ensure your program provides the right results.
B. Define how much change you want to see
If you’re looking for minor changes in the way people interact, then a short lesson might work. However, if you’re looking for folks to master a complex process, a single workshop won’t cut it.
As you’re mapping out what needs to change, examine how well and to what extent your people should perform the new behavior and plan your training dollars accordingly
- Set demonstration deadlines — One of the biggest mistakes I see organizations make is training people without setting deadlines for results. They pour billions of dollars into courses without ever setting a clear expectation of when those skills should need to be demonstrated.Without holding your training team and employees accountable for demonstrating results, it’s impossible to track success.
- Define the internal change — As you move forward with a defined end-state, extent of change and deadlines, ask: How will our people will be able to tell the difference? If training is effective, leaders and subordinates will see a measurable difference. Define what that difference should be ahead of time to ensure it occurs.
- Define how customers will perceive it — If training isn’t affecting customer decisions, it’s not worth the time. To ensure it is, ask: How will my customers be able to tell the difference after this training? This way, you’ll be able to tell if your training produced results that influence how customers perceive and buy from your people and your company.
Training is how individuals and organizations improve. Follow these five steps to ensure your training dollars are producing results worth your investment.