Can a company continue to grow without any training function? Can an organization be successful without any kind of learning and professional development strategy? Good questions, that several companies are not taking the time to ask.
Start up companies especially, view the learning function as something that is built farther down the road. “We have all this talent on board, and they already know how to do their jobs, so we don’t need training yet.” Wrong! Waiting until “you need training” is too late to prevent the problems that are now present and begging you to start training.
Training and/or learning is not a simple light switch, if anything it is more of a dimmer switch that takes time to crank up to full power. Yet this is where I miss the mark most of the time. I believe in preventing issues, and waiting to begin training, and then waiting for training to take hold is reactive and something that many companies are willing to deal with later.
So when is the time right to begin training if a company wants to wait?
A local bank just hired a trainer to begin building a training function, and this bank has around 1000 employees now. Not only is this too late, the strategy is one that will not work even after 10 years. The person hired is used to training workshops, not building infrastructure. The bank is still growing and will always be ahead of this training manager. Eventually the perception will be that training didn’t live up to expectations and will be shut down.
I have had the honor of judging the CLO Learning Elite Awards for the past 3 years, and have witnessed some outstanding learning strategies. What they all have in common are very competent learning professionals and senior leadership that understands how training impacts the organization’s ability to succeed. When leaders don’t understand the value of a learning organization, training is doomed to fail. And if the wrong people are hired to lead training initiatives little impact results from their efforts.
Any senior leader that is not focusing on the human aspect of their company’s strengths, might as well ignore the financial results too. Companies can grow without training, but they never live up to their potential.