Training Department Closed!

A common phrase that training departments like to throw out a lot is that when times get hard, the first thing to go is the training department.  Well, how do you explain a multi-million dollar company eliminating the role of the head of training, but leaving the trainers?

For us HR folks, we know that eliminating a position means that your cannot replace it.  In the case of this unsaid company, the trainers will now report directly to the HR Director.  No more pesky Training and Organizational Development Manager to get in the way of their desire to stay where they are today.

No more talk about virtual learning when you are geographically dispersed, and the culture is all classroom training.  No more talk of building different skill sets in employees because technology has changed the way business is done.  That’s why on-the-job training was invented.

And best of all, no more of these annoying strategic training plans tied back to the company’s growth plans for the year.  We can now stay on the “wing it” path of self-development and take our chances.  We love rolling the dice, in fact it is part of our business strategy to gamble.  Those training plans provided structure and accountability which is just plain annoying!

Technically this organization still has a training department, but by removing the talented head of training and replacing it with a prosthetic one, failure is emanate.  I so wish I could name this company for you so you could sell your stock now.  This company is terminal, and not even a training physical could help save them now!

Accountability Starts with Each of Us

I attended a virtual learning session today that was presented by Linda Galindo on Accountability, and she made a very succinct statement early in the session that “Accountability Starts with You!”  I stopped multi-tasking at that point, and Linda had my complete attention for the next hour!

I got to thinking that everything I’ve been doing with training departments over the past several years has been about directing accountability in performing the training function well and returning on the investment being made in personnel, materials and facilities.  Yet, Linda’s whole approach to accountability opened my mind to the need to focus everyone in the entire company on taking responsibility for themselves.  You just have to seek out her books and programs to learn more!

Upon further reflection, I realized that in my book The Training Physical, I did spend some time on the steps to staying healthy and that one of them was to walk your talk.  If you are seriously trying to create a learning organization, how are you personally participating in that goal?  In other words, is your walk accountable to your talk?

I met a training manager a few weeks ago that said she had developed a very detailed annual training plan with goals, projects and developmental plans for her staff.  Silly me I asked if the staff participated in the development plans, and she said, “oh no, they don’t even know I wrote them.”

Hum, dare I ask her if anyone in the organization knows about her annual training plan?  Well, those of you that know me, know I’m not shy and by now you won’t be surprised to learn the entire training plan was her little secret.  I asked her why she didn’t have it fully publicized?

Answer:  “Then I would be accountable for getting it all done!”

OH MY GOLLY – Wouldn’t that be just awful!

So folks, do us all a favor.  Let’s start to create organizations full of people that are accountable.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Training In A Time Warp!

If you were the training director for a company that had over 1400 employees, in 190+ locations, across 20 states, what methods would you use to train all these employees?  If you would be happy only doing face to face, stand up delivery in the classroom, do I have a place for you to work!

If there was ever a case study for blended and distance learning, this organization is prime, and yet there is not a single bit of technology in any of their training methods.  The owners are old school, and when they started the company with a hand full of employees years ago, not only did this reasoning make sense, but it was really the only option for learning available.

The training director is a good friend of mine, and yet in the year he has been in charge of training he has been unable to change the culture of how people will learn their job skills.  Although it would be convenient for me to endorse his excuse of blaming the owners, I want to remind him that they are not supposed to stay current on learning trends and best practices.  They hired him to do that job, and he is not making a strong enough case.

One of the purposes of The Training Physical is to insert a 3rd party point of view.  Often when a training director is the one who is bringing me into their organization it is to document issues that have fallen on deft ears and they need their management team to listen.

In the example company I’m using this week, their learning processes are stuck in the past.  Not only are they spending more money than is necessary to build these skills, they are avoiding the real issue of engaging the current workforce using methods they would prefer.  Online training, social learning and even good old fashion self-paced eLearning would be good first steps.

Let’s help this manager by adding your comments on how they could get better results and move this organization out of its time warp.

Changing The Impression Of Training

A client of mine is desperate to change the “culture” or view of the purpose of training.  His company has been so small that all learning has been self-directed and learned on the job.  Yet, he is growing this organization and knows full well that training needs to become more formalized.

He said the process to create a formal training department has been slow.  That people are not ready for the change in their learning culture.  I asked him why is he ready?

Simple questions like that are often the hardest to answer, and there is no right or wrong answer.  I know that this person has a history of working for companies with formal training functions.  He is not from the training world, yet he has personally experienced the benefits for himself, staff and achieving business goals.

Answering that question was something he was unable to do immediately with any great depth.  So I told him I would call him back in a day once he thought about it.  The time delay allowed him to reflect on his experience, and when we talked the next day, the benefit statements came flowing.

How do you change the culture of a company that does not see the value of a training function?

First, you need to realize that people rarely see past their own experiences.  The people my friend want influence do not have his same experiences, so no kidding, they see zero value in the training function.  How could they see anything else?

But spouting off that we need to do something because it is necessary does not change impressions.  You are talking with people who don’t see the picture until you start to paint it for them.  I suggested that he have the group describe the current learning methods, and then change the scenario with the addition of the 50 new people they plan to hire in the next year; which is about 200% more than they have now!

Can they use the same learning methods?  Maybe some, but what would have to change?  I encouraged him to ask them for answers and summarize what will no doubt describe a formal training function.  We shall see in the next few months how successful he is in changing impressions.