Untrained Trainers

If you ask anyone within your company the purpose of the training department, most will come to a similar conclusion that this department trains the skills employees need to do their jobs.  So why on earth does this definition include all employees except the ones working in training?

Ask most trainers, instructional designers, performance consultants, and training managers how often they have had professional development that focuses on their unique competencies, and most will have a hard time remembering the last time, or if at all.

As those of you that have read my thoughts in The Training Physical about trainer development know, I fault the training manager for this issue.

First, any training manager worth their salt has professional development for their staff built into their annual training plan.

Second, this same training manager should never have accepted their own job if professional development was not negotiated as part of the job description.  Fighting to get it included later is a tough battle!

Third, having untrained professionals in charge of skill development of your entire workforce is just rolling the dice in a fixed game.  You are going to lose every time!

I’m constantly amazed at the lack of training competencies in the folks running small to mid-sized training functions.  Bless their hearts, for all the right reasons they accepted the challenge of training the employees in their companies with a toolkit missing tools.  And yet they continue to skip or acquire skill development for themselves and their staff year after year.

For those of you that have the training function reporting to you, it is vital that you focus on their skill development.  No matter how hard they are trying, you are cheating them out of the skills they need to both reinforce, and learn new to be successful.

What are your thoughts?

Know Your Limitations

When I began in training development some 22 years ago as a trainer, I felt that I had an immense ability to change behaviors.  One day of training could literally change the world, and yet I was so wrong.  I had fallen for the hype that training could cure all ills, and that we were master fixers of everything.

Later when I began to study performance consulting, and realized that the training function was just one type of solution to create or change behaviors I was suddenly brought back to earth.  While it is tempting to take all the accolades for a well implemented training strategy working, we must know our limitations and share the credit with other factors.

Leadership development is one of my favorite examples of shared responsibility.  You literally cannot train everything a person needs to know to be an effective leader.  Your limitation is in the skill building, and creating situations where others mentor and practice these skills.  And while we might think that we are the masters of skill identification, get a grip that we are not and we must involve existing leaders in this process.

You have heard many say that training needs to partner with others to achieve results.  The very notion of “partnering” lends itself to understanding that we are but one component in the learning process.  So with this knowledge we must include others in our needs analysis, planning and implementation if we want a successful employee.

As we become aware of our limitations, we also are keen on not taking all the credit for success.  And here is the better part of this awareness; we don’t need to take all the credit for failure either.

Is Training Returning on the Investment?

I regularly ask CEOs if their training department is returning on the investment being made annually.  Typically I get the ever cautious “I’m sure it is” as a response, to which I generally follow up with a question that moves them from a gut feeling to wondering themselves what is really going on.

I’ve long said that training is an illusive function within a company.  The large corporations hire top notch training talent and so long before their CEO would have to guess the health of their training function, their Chief Learning Officer has already demonstrated and proven the success of the investment in training.  Even some mid-size companies have training leaders with the right processes to prove the function’s worth.

Yet smaller organizations often don’t hire the best talent to lead training, and promote a trainer without giving them the right skills to lead training.  They wrongfully believe this is a low risk department because it is so small that even if their training manager is a complete incompetent, the potential risk is low.  Oh how wrong this line of thinking is!

If you are reading this blog posting you are either in training, or you are the client of your training function.  You either should be asking “Is Training Returning on the Investment?” or you should be prepared to prove that what you are delivering does return on the investment.

I would like to encourage all of you to find out the health of your training departments in the next couple of weeks.  If you are in senior leadership in your organization, go ask training how well they are returning on the investment.  If you are in training I want you to spend time gathering the information, stats and proof sources to demonstrate your impact.

If your company cannot discover if training is returning on the investment, or you are unable to prove it is, then make an appointment with me for a Training Physical.  While you can read the book and purchase a self-audit kit, I would suggest that route is only good for folks that have already have a grasp of their training department’s health.

Call me (562) 943-5776 or email me Jim@JKHopkinsConsulting.com today!