If you want a single question that can assess the healthiness of your training function, ask Senior Management “What Skills Need to be Developed in their Employees?” If they can answer with a list of things then management is being kept informed and is aware of skill deficiencies. If they cannot answer, or give broad answers like leadership, compliance or operations, then they are trying to fake it.
My next favorite question is, “How do employees learn?” Or you could ask, “How do you train employees?” Either question will get to the root of how much on the job training, or show and tell training is trying to replace more formal methods that have better sticking power.
But in every type of training, you can do it so poorly that it is a waste of time and money. In my latest book, “Pointless Training” I talk about how any form of training can be implemented poorly and thus yield weak results.
CLASSROOM: Have you ever been in a workshop where the instructor is a talking machine that never stops? They feel they are the source of all information and so all the participants need to do is be quiet and listen.
WEBINAR: While it could be the same talking instructor who runs off at the mouth for the whole hour, it could be that there is also no way for the participants to interact, ask questions, or add value. It could be the wrong instructor and/or platform for training.
ELEARNING: Good old self-paced. Some are good and are interactive, but if you need to include no doze or extra caffeine to participate then maybe not. Or is it all reading with a quiz?
ON-THE-JOB: The cheapest and least reliable. No consistency unless there are deliverables, demonstrations, practice and accountability for objectives.
JOB AIDES: My favorite cheap training. Solves everything and solves nothing, as it all depends on the quality of the design and depth of content.
READING: If you have a Policy & Procedures Manual and assign it as reading, and then hold people accountable to everything, you are a cruel person. Reading opens up a topic as an introduction or is a resource after training.
CONFERENCES: A bunch of seminars, with nuggets of information, which generally are lost and forgotten days after the event. Unless you have accountability and deliverables built in for after the event, you just spent a bunch of money for nothing. But they had fun!
These two areas of training must be led in the right direction or your training function is unhealthy. Management must be part of the learning process and every learning event must be implemented correctly or things do not work for the common good.