They say you should never ask a question you already know the answer to, but I think it is perfectly okay to ask a question of someone if I doubt they know the answer. But let me begin with a little background first.
I believe that for a training department to be functional, they need to be doing the following basics:
- They need to be working off an annual strategic training plan that is aligned with corporate performance objectives
- They need to be designing, developing and implementing training that change behaviors
- They need to be evaluating the results of their efforts using methods that prove their value to the organization
When I discover a training function that is operating without a plan, implementing training without a connection to the success of the organization or their evaluation method is simply to wait to hear of problems, I know they are not functioning properly. When I have the opportunity to talk with the CEO, COO or any senior leader in that organization, I ask them if their training department works for them?
Not a fair question you say? Why, because I know that the training function isn’t working for them? What if they think it is?
Because the question is asked this way, I usually get a very thoughtful answer that starts with a pause because they are thinking about results. The goal of every training manager should be that their management team instantly responds with a “Yes” they are working for me.
I’ve had answers all over the board, from a strong “yes”, to “haven’t got a clue.” Recently a CEO answered truthfully that they don’t have a training function. I asked why not. He said that they are doing okay, and don’t need training. While I kept this conversation going a little longer, it was apparent that they never have seen a value in training, and at the same time could not connect their future needs to training today. My gut tells me they will close their doors or merge by the end of the year. They are planning to fail, by failing to plan for success.
Bottom line, the training function is a support function. They need to be working for each and every department within your organization. If they are not, let’s talk about what needs to change so your future is brighter.