New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions can be a productive use of time IF one plans to actually carry out the goals and objectives they desire.  Especially during this last week of the old year, I think it is a perfect time to reflect on your purpose and what needs to change in the coming year.

For those of you following this blog, you know that the purpose of The Training Physical is to Diagnose, Treat and Cure Your Training Department so that you are able to meet the purpose your company depends on for their success.  When training is running at top efficiency, than they are able to prepare the employee population to perform their job skills.  When everything is in alignment, then success is possible.

I have three New Year’s Resolutions I would like the Training Manager to add to their list of resolutions.

First, if you do not already operate with a strategic training plan, make this an immediate action item to create one now!  Then implement it as soon as you are secure in the knowledge that it will support the company’s goals.  The key is to implement it, you know, actually get things done.

Second, I would like you to concentrate on increasing the professional development of each staff member in training.  Whether it is their facilitation skills (classroom and virtual), their design skills (classroom, online and virtual) or their performance consulting and needs analysis skills, target an aggressive development plan to bring everyone up to speed this year.

Third, start to realize that training is an investment in the personnel of the company.  You as the training manager need to focus on Exceeding the return on the annual investment your company is spending.  You are not a cost center, and if you operate that way then you may find training is the first to be cut this coming year to reduce expenses.  Your operation needs to save the company money, make the company money, increase sales and service levels, and exceed expectations.

I feel these resolutions will give you a more fulfilling New Year, and prepare you and your team to meet the challenges ahead.

Happy New Year!

Judging CLO LearningElite Awards

I have the honor of being one of the many judges that CLO Magazine has chosen to review applications for the 2012 LearningElite Awards.  One of the applications I reviewed this week, just blew my mind and gave me such hope for the future of learning development!

I cannot reveal the company I speak of here or even tell you about the specifics because of my role as a judge.  All I can say is that this experience has filled me with such joy at the end of a year full of much different learning environments that I feel vindicated that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Too many training organizations are running on low batteries, and they are causing more issues than they are helping to fix.  I watched at least 6 training departments this year get closed, and of the 6 I am referencing, they all needed to be closed.  My hat is off to the senior leadership for closing those departments.  My hat will be tipped again to them if they reorganize and put a better learning staff into place next year.

“No company should be without the Learning Function, but many training department personnel need to find a new career.”

Yet when a training function is in alignment with the company’s goals and objectives, and is proactive with solutions, tracks results, and constantly looks for ways to improve their value to the company, I’m just in awe!

Training Leader Saves Money!

One of my clients made my day this week when they acted to save their company money.  The training they purchased this month saved them thousands of dollars over waiting until January.  Because this training department is being run by a Training Leader rather than a Training Administrator, they saved money!

Leaders think farther out then the present day they are working.  This is why my client could easily have waited for a couple more weeks, but instead bucked the trend to party hardy these next two weeks and concentrate on next year’s training goals and spending her budget dollars wisely.

A training manager that acts like an administrator is waiting for others to make decisions and will miss opportunities to make their departments more cost-effective.  There is a simple reason that we pay managers more than we pay administrators – we expect more from their work day!

More than ever we are focused on ROI (Returning On Investment) and it boggles my mind when training managers don’t look for ways to REDUCE the investment!  Hello!  If you spend less on training, it makes it that much easier and faster to return on the investment.

So before you point a finger at someone else not allowing you to be successful, I want you to take a look at your own participation in the process.  Are you acting like a Training Leader or more like a Training Administrator?

Accountable Training Department

In the past two weeks I have spoken with 5 CEOs about the health of their training function and if they know how much training is returning on the annual investment.  Not a single one had given it much thought, because they were all living under the assumption that training was a cost that as one said – “must be returning on the investment.”  Yet when I stressed the words how much it is returning they fell silent.

Isn’t it odd that every department within a company is accountable for results, and yet too often the training department is not?  I find this appalling to say the least.  What makes the dollars allocated to training any less valuable.  I bet if you were not spending those dollars on training, another department would love to have them!

Although I have recommended that each of these 5 CEOs hire me to conduct a Training Physical, I asked them to test the need themselves by asking their training director to come to their office with the 2011 training plan.  Since the year is nearly over, I suggested they ask the training director to explain how they have returned on the investment made in training this year.

Since most training departments run without a formal, strategic training plan, the absence of one should be the first indication that the training department is not focused, but reactive in nature.  Reactive training is expensive and only meets specific training objectives.

The second thing I asked each of these CEOs to do was to request their training director present them with the 2012 training plan and explain how it is tied to the goals and objectives of the company and how they plan to return on next year’s training investment.

These are two very simple requests that any CEO should be able to expect answers from the person they are paying to lead the training function.  If any training director cannot stand up to this kind of query from the CEO, they are in over their heads!

Not only are they probably lacking the competencies necessary to create and manage to a training plan, but they have not been held accountable to doing their job correctly.  These are but symptoms of an unhealthy training function, and one that needs to undergo a complete Training Physical!

The training function is like the heart of the organization and if it is functioning correctly the whole company is too!  However, if the heart is ill, then the organization is fighting an uphill battle to be successful.