What Is Your Purpose For Training?

thumbnailCA4Z1XR6What Is Your Purpose For Training?  Easy question I would think for any executive that is working for a company that has a training function.  Actually, not as easy of a question as you would think for most to answer.

I am forever disappointed in executive management that doesn’t understand the purpose of a training department.  They seem to have a firm grasp on all of the other human resource functions, like payroll, benefits, employee relations, and recruitment, but are just plum stymied by a definition for why they have a training department.

Then there is the company that wants to build out a training function from scratch.  Brand new initiative and even those closest to the approval phase are not really in touch with why the company needs training.  They try to latch on to safe bets like, “it is to improve retention efforts”  or my personal favorite, “what do you mean, shouldn’t we have training?”

While training has some common reasons for existing, management should not be struggling with a reason they have or want a training function, unless it really is a brand new concept.

Recently I met with two organizations that want to build out a training function.  The first had already begun, but were running into a lot of issues with having the right people implementing training.  Yet they had learning as a core value and could really articulate why this function needed to get things done and how their work impacted the organization.  I mean, this management team was solid on the value and purpose of training.

The second organization wants training, but from the job they see ahead of them, has no real understanding of the purpose of training.   Digging a little deeper, I realized that the management team has never worked for a company that had a training function, so their personal careers have never intersected with corporate sponsored learning.  They struggle because they simply have no experience to draw on for a purpose.  They want training because outgoing employees are asking for it.  Maybe a weak reason to begin this process, but at least it is a start.

My point is that before training can be built, and before it can be implemented, management needs to be able to articulate and sell the reasons their company needs this function.  It is also the responsibility of the training leader in both organizations to guide these discussions so that a solid purpose statement can be defined.  For more information on the purpose of training, check out The Training Physical at an online bookstore or our website.

Zero Skill Deficiencies?

no trainingI discovered another company this week that does not see the need to train staff.  There is no training department, and Human Resources have been told by the CEO that there is no need to focus on training.  As it turns out, the CEO and I are connected in LinkedIn, so I sent her an email and asked:

What are your employee skill deficiencies?

Much to my surprise she responded with an honest answer, that she didn’t know off-hand, and wanted to know the purpose of my question.

So I continued the email conversation with an appreciation for her honesty, and that I had heard that training was not on the agenda anymore.  In my mind this means there are zero skill deficiencies, and I was excited to hear how this company had pulled this off.  In 25 plus years I had not found a single company that had perfectly aligned skill sets and was eager to learn how their process could be duplicated.

Well, as you can imagine, there was a pause.  In fact for over a week, and just when I was about to follow-up, she replied and told me that in fact there were quite a few skill deficiencies, many common ones, and that it may be the reason certain projects and objectives may not be getting accomplished.  Dumbstruck once again with her honesty, I asked her if she wants to change this situation.  I’m currently waiting on her response.

You see, not training employees was going to be the way forward, until someone bothered to question that decision.  Yes, HR should have done it, but she was uncomfortable doing it so I did it for her.  If we are going to serve the companies we work for than we need to do our jobs well.  And at times that means questioning a decision, process or in this case a missing component for employees to perform well.

I will admit that this CEO is an open-minded leader, and you may not be working with that kind of mindset currently.  If you need help communicating your concerns to senior management, let’s brain-storm on the phone and come up with a strategy.  It may or may not work, but never walk away from a bad processes because you fear trying.