Is Training Helping or Hurting Your Success?

I’ve been called a “purist” for believing that the training / learning function within every company is vital to the ultimate success of said company.  I work off the simple premise that companies have goals and objectives to meet.  They hire human beings to perform tasks to meet these same goals and objectives.  When these human beings are well skilled, they perform well.  If these human beings lack the necessary skills to perform their functions, then goals and objectives are not achieved.

The primary function of the training department is to prepare newly hired employees to perform their jobs, while building skills in existing employees to take on new responsibilities in the future.

If your company has a functioning and healthy training organization then it is helping to achieve your success.  Likewise if they are functioning poorly, lack the competencies themselves to perform their jobs, then your training department is actually hurting the chances of your success!

How do you know if training is helping or hurting?

Well I would have to ask how you determine if any department or function within your company is helping or hurting your success.  Maybe you evaluate based on goals being met.  Or possibly you are focused more on audit results, customer feedback, revenues or “No news is good news.”

I found an article today that was written by Sam Palazzolo in February of 2009 titled “Should You Fire Your Training Department?”  Even though I just read his thoughts now, these same ideas have been floating in my head for years.  Because I firmly believe that no company should be without the training function, I do believe that some people do not belong in training and do more damage then they do good.

Have you heard of Operations Management?

Wikipedia describes Operations Management with a very detailed and long winded definition that is very correct, and yet I like the definition I heard this past week on a webinar.  They said that Operations Management was learning to do the same things better!

If we can support this direct definition of operations management, then we can agree that no matter how well your training department is functioning today, it can find ways to do the same things better!

When it comes to discovering the health of your training department, I firmly believe that a 3rd party audit designed around your use of learning is the best way to uncover issues and create plans for improving the operation.  The auditor and management needs to spend time before an audit to agree on the types of things to be evaluated.

A possible list could be:

  • Comparing the training plan to the company’s strategic goals
  • Evaluating the skills and competencies of the training staff
  • Evaluating the use of technologies
  • Comparing the course offering to the learning needs
  • Evaluating developmental and succession plans
  • Evaluating the learning methods used to meet generational needs
  • Comparing the training budget to the training plan
  • Evaluating the quality of the learning materials
  • Evaluating the vendor programs for contractual compliance
  • Evaluate the use of consultants and their ROI

Agree to get healthy before starting treatment!

Imagine going through the audit process with any department, coming out with a list of possible improvements, and then doing nothing with this knowledge.  Talk about a complete waste of time, resources and money!

It is fair to assume that if our goal is to “Learn how to do the same things better” then we should be able to agree that we will be making not only suggestions for improving the operation, but implementing these suggestions.  By discussing and agreeing on this ultimate path before the audit begins, all parties realize that things will be changing.

So if you were put on the spot today:

Is Your Training Department Helping or Hurting Your Success?

If you don’t know, what are you going to do to get the answer?

This blog was originally posted on on June 9, 2011


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