When Did Training Become Optional?

thumbnailCA4Z1XR6In some industries, training employees has become an optional activity.  No longer do companies see the need to develop employees so they can produce results, exceed goals or even as a retention tool.  So “When Did Training Become Optional?”

Thirty years ago, financial services was an industry that spent serious time and money on developing staff.  If they were to be competitive, they had to have the brightest people representing them, and that meant training skills was a required activity.  Employees learned both operational skills and communication skills, while at the same time we built interpersonal and management development skills.  Sadly, only a handful of banks in this country develop their employees today.

Our society has evolved into a disposal society in more ways than most will admit out loud.  Employees that don’t come with the necessary skills better figure out a way to obtain them or they will lose their jobs.  Employers have learned in the past 8 years that they can replace one warm body with another warm body without a lot of effort.  So why spend money on development when you can throw away and replace any given employee?

Human Resources have learned that to be constantly viable to an organization, they must either devote a lot of effort to performance management, organizational development, succession planning, training and retention.  Or, they can avoid all that and just get good at recruitment.  Oh, did I just say the obvious?  Unless you devote time to your existing workforce, they will leave and you will be spending time finding replacements.  And that my friends is what makes a lot of HR people feel secure.  “They need us because we have a lot of openings to fill.”

In financial services, only the bigger institutions train their employees anymore.  Mid-size to small banks and credit unions will train compliance topics because the regulators force them, and then only train topics after performance is found to be an issue.  Reactive training efforts far exceed proactive development efforts.

The only way this can turn around in any industry or company is through the leadership ranks.  Until we have leaders that see the value of developing staff, nothing will change.  To assist this effort, new applicants should ask what kinds of employee development occurs before they entertain or accept an offer.  If nothing much is happening, then make that the reason you decline.  If it becomes hard to recruit, leadership might just have to wake up to a new reality.

Condition of Training Function Clue

thumbnailCA4Z1XR6How can I tell if our training department is functioning well?

Probably the number one question I get from senior management when I ask them if their training department is functioning the way it should is this question in return.  How can I tell?

My biggest concern when I evaluate a training function is how reactive versus proactive are they operating.  There must be a balance, but unless they are operating from a strategic training plan, that links their activities and projects to the goals and objectives of the company, they are living only as a reactive function.

So I always ask if they are using a strategic training plan?  Then I will ask, when was the last time it was reviewed with you?  So, two indicators here.  First is there a plan, and how often is the progress being communicated?

In all honesty, if your training function is running off a training plan that shows productivity toward the stated goals, they are halfway toward being a great training function.  If they are not, then there is little hope that they can be functioning well now or in the future.  My next recommendation is to schedule a Training Physical ASAP!


In an effort to bring this blog back to the origins of The Training Physical, I am now going to devote it to Questions from YOU and my best Answers to your concerns.  You can continue to email your questions to me at  Jim@JKHopkinsConsulting.com and I will continue to respond to you directly.  When I start to see a common trend, I will bring it up in this blog without mentioning anyone, to help all readers learn.