For those of you in training that are about to embark on the annual budgeting process, I have one bit of advice I’d like to share. If you are unable to produce a training plan that spells out the deliverables for next year, then management should not approve your training budget!
If you are planning to budget money for training, then each project should have an associated price tag so management understands the cost of training. If your plan includes not only deliverables, but how each track back to a specific business objective or challenge, then the money you are asking for in a budget becomes the way things will get accomplished. And likewise if money is not approved, which projects fall out of the plan.
With this process I’ve never had a training budget not get the approval I needed to implement the training plan. Because if the discussion turns to how much the total is, I turn it back to which projects can we postpone for another year? Sometimes there are projects that can wait, but most of the time the people only counting the beans and not willing to give up on the deliverables.
What irritates me most is when management allows a budget approval without any kind of plan. I’ve heard comments like, “we have to provide training” or “we will approve projects as we go throughout the year.” Both setup the stage for a lot of waste, and end of the year splurging on anything to spend the budget.
By creating a training plan, that is supported by an approved budget, you have established a practice that can be held accountable. This my friends, is a good thing for your training efforts.
What makes a person qualified to lead a training function? What kind of qualities and experience should they have before the keys to the training department are handed to them? Will the outcomes for learning be different based on the person we choose to lead training?
A new contact this past week is concerned about the direction their company is taking in regards to building a training department and learning environment. They reached out to me with a scenario that even after 25 years in this business I have never personally seen in place, so at first I was a little surprised. This person had recently read my book The Training Physical, and mentioned that they didn’t see much on the qualifications to run a training function. They were right, as I only discussed training managers that lacked all the necessary skills to pull it all together and the difficulties that they would encounter until they acquired all the skills necessary to do the job.
So let me set the stage a little, without mentioning the industry or the gender of this person, hence I will not say “she” or “he” but rather “they” to avoid any reader figuring out what company I am talking about. This particular company does have a variety of business lines that are supported by a single corporate training department, and to have industry experience in all of these businesses would probably be a stretch to find. However, this particular new training managers comes with only one of the businesses and zero experience in human resources or any training role. So while this person is a subject matter expert in a line of business they lack any HR or training skill sets.
In my experience, I have yet to find a person that leads the entire learning function without some type of trainer, designer, organizational development or even basic human resources experiences as a foundation. Leading a training function and understanding capabilities of your team are kind of essential to the job, but I wonder if they can be successful without anything on the ground floor. While this person does have strategic skills, probably project management experience, they would have to learn everything about how adults learn. Slapping together a bunch of workshops or eLearning courses doesn’t make for good learning results if you don’t know why you are doing things a certain way.
So today I am leaving this in your trusted hands to float some ideas and opinions as to what qualifies someone to lead a training function? What kind of criteria would you use to select someone, and what are the minimum qualifications that must exist?