What If Your Training Function is Deficient?


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I watched an online advertising video recently where the Sales Consultant said to a CEO, “I’m sure you are aware that your sales process is broken, so when you want to fix it give me a call.” I chuckled at that approach because it began with such a big assumption that the CEO already knew about a problem and was doing nothing to fix it. And then I began to wonder how many CEOs would really be in the dark about operational problems. The more I think about this, the more I doubt that any CEO is completely clueless about areas of deficiency within their organizations.

I have spent the better part of the past decade helping organizations improve the return on investment in their employee development functions. In every case I have approached these organizations with the assumption that they had no idea what a healthy training function should look like, because otherwise wouldn’t they have fixed their own training function?

Most of my clients have either felt it was easier to go along with my assumption or not argue the point to save face. Either way, I am now questioning my entire approach and really wonder if most CEOs don’t already know their training functions are deficient. They simply don’t have the internal resources to fix it and don’t know who to call for help.

The advertisement approach I saw makes the assumption that the CEO knows about a problem in a way that allows them to simply answer, “Yes I do, I will be in touch soon.” It allows them to save face for whatever reason they haven’t fixed the problem and simply contact the consultant for help.

So as a way to kick start my new approach to fixing deficient training functions, I would like to say to all those reading:

“I am sure you are aware that your training function is not producing a return on the investment you are making each year. When you are ready to fix your training function, Contact me.”

 

Jim Hopkins

jim@jhopkinsconsulting.com

Author of:

“The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat & Cure Your Training Department”

The Training Physical   “Pointless Training: The Consequences of Inadequate Training Strategies”  Pointless Training Cover

 

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Making Training Obsolete


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Many organizations have made a conscience decision to remove all forms of employee development from the workplace unless it is a compliance requirement to operate. This means that each and every employee within that company is responsible to figure it out on their own.

The savings that would have been spent to develop people can now be directed toward the recruiting process and the ever revolving door that a company of under skilled employees creates. Arrogant management that finds it digestible to pass on development, and recycle employees is outright disgusting, and yet very few have the backbone to push for change.

There are many organizations that have top rated talent development processes, and I applaud every effort they make to remain vibrant and a true business partner. Yet these same organizations are also staffed with enlightened senior and executive management that fight for their employees and personally are involved in the learning culture. They want both their employees and their company to be successful.

There are even more organizations that have a training function that is so incompetent that they often do more harm than good as they create facades that management are fooled by, because who wants to take the time to evaluate the training function for any kind of return on investment. They make for great window dressing, but very little change to the overall operation. Honestly, the company would do better to close up these ineffective operations if they are unwilling to fix them.

So if your organization has decided to make training obsolete, have you figured out where the money saved is being spent? Does it go to profits that are passed on to shareholders? Does it go toward parties, bonuses, salaries and other perks for the bosses? Maybe it is invested in research & development, or marketing & advertising

A company that operates without regular talent development is also operating with a short term mentality. This means that there are no long term career options, and the company itself is a short term player in the market. Personally I would not work for or invest in any company that has made training obsolete.

Would you?

Do You?

Does Your CEO Really Value Employee Development?


CFO to CEOToo many training managers tie the value of employee development (AKA) training, to the simple fact that the company pays for it. And while it is obvious that a lack of funding is a sure fire connection to a lack of value, it is but only one indication that this function adds to the organization’s benefit.

In fact, many companies cannot articulate why they have a training function, expect to list what the negative impression it would bring on to the company if they lacked training. “It would be harder to recruit if we didn’t have a training function, and it adds to our efforts for employee retention if we can list training as a perk.”

Yet if you really want to know if your CEO values employee development, I would suggest you look for these signs:

  • There is a training department or at the very least is a job responsibility assigned to a senior manager like the HR Director.
  • The CEO talks with the training manager at least quarterly as to what have been the target development projects and their results. Also the CEO wants an update on future projects coming down the pipeline.
  • The company requires a strategic vision for training, and an annual training project plan.
  • The training function is part of the initial discussions when system changes, new products & services, acquisitions/mergers or policy & procedure changes are coming soon.
  • The CEO and other executive managers regularly discuss why particular training events are needed and how the organization will benefit.
  • A majority of management wants to participate in the learning process themselves, as participants and facilitators.

In organizations that have leadership that understand the value of employee development, it is so much more involved than a cheerleading HR Director and/or Training Manager. It is part of the culture and embraced by a majority of the management team in tangible actions. It really is more important to “walk the talk” but at the very least “talk the talk.”

If your organization does not seem to value training, it is time to schedule a Training Physical and find out what can be done to save the function before it becomes terminal.

When You Don’t Want to Delay Training


waitIn the Learning Development space, most of us understand the list of what are called “Adult Learning Principles” as kind of the rules we live by in the design, facilitation and implementation of training solutions. I learned a long time ago to ignore these principles at my own risk.

One of these principles is that adults learn best when they have a need and/or a desire to learn. When an adult learner is ready to learn it is never wise to delay their training. In fact, delaying the learning process only tends to frustrate the adult learner and your window of opportunity to make training stick closes each day you delay.

Now while I have always understood this principle, I have recently become impatient with a delay in my own learning process. While the experience of being asked to wait is frustrating, it has also allowed me to personally feel the aggravation of being an adult learner that is being delayed from learning. I am ready to learn and so therefore I should be allowed to learn now.

I recently purchased a travel franchise, and while I know a lot about the travel industry, I have a lot to learn about the back office and booking side of the business. Because I am on a different time table from the training function, I find it kind of funny to be sitting on the other side of the fence this time waiting on getting the training I need. Even though I am not working in training this time, I am still learning about the results of poor implementation. I guess I will never get completely away from the world of learning development.

For those reading that come from the training world, you may have picked up on another adult learning principle that has always been one I remember, and that is that adults learn best through experiential learning activities. They can learn from lectures, discussions, group work and research, but getting into the role is still the best way to lock down the learning. By having to wait for my own training when I want it now, I have experienced a frustration that reading about never locked down as well as feeling it has to this point.

While I appreciate learning more about the importance of implementing training when the adult learner wants to learn, I still want my training to begin now.

So Why Do Franchises Spend Time On Training?


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The past few weeks I’ve been exploring different franchise businesses that are from different industries and several different business models. But the one thing they all have had in common is a very robust training plan for new franchise owners.

Built into the franchise fee are in-depth online courses, webinars, and weeklong classroom training. Everyone had a plan for keeping the skill development alive even after the initial training had been completed.

Coming from the corporate world where only a handful of organizations spend this much time with new hires, I have not only been impressed at the support, but started to wonder why franchises spend so much time on training?

  • The first reason is that franchise owners are often new to owning a business and often industry experience is not a requirement to own a franchise. So the potential franchise owner is desperate to learn and won’t sign up unless the company can provide thorough training.
  • The second reason is the company realizes that these new franchise owners are almost certain to fail without a comprehensive training process.

Both are excellent reasons for franchises to spend time on training!

 

Now this is where I get a little steamed when it comes to comparing the corporate world that spends so little time on their onboarding process and comprehensive training plan.

Just like a franchise owner, a new employee also wants to be able to perform their job quickly and is looking for the right training support to fill in the gaps. But the difference seems to be that too many companies are not as vested in their employees being successful or they would provide better training processes. Ouch! The truth can hurt at times.

Having now reviewed several franchise fees that need to be paid to own a franchise, they are not that different than the average compensation package for the first year of an employee’s time on the job. So one might ask does it matter who is paying this money.

In a franchise scenario it is the owner of the franchise who is risking the investment and wants the training. Yet in a corporate setting it is the employer who is risking the investment and passes on providing the training. It makes no sense, but happens daily in companies all over the country!

Is it time to invest in our employees, or is it time for companies to shore up their investments with comprehensive training? Maybe it is time for both!

Attention Training – All Hands On Deck!


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Have you notice that the business world is starting to talk more about growth? New factories, new offices, new businesses popping up everywhere, with new hiring to follow soon!

Any company that is planning to grow without the assistance of an internal training function is gambling with the company’s future. Any Board of Directors and/or Management Team that is avoiding hiring skilled training talent to build competencies is in for a real surprise when their plans fall flat.

Most, if not all companies, need to train specific skills in their employees in order for them to learn how to perform certain tasks. Leaving aside the obvious lack of interpersonal communications, productivity and leadership training, employees need to learn how to function in their work environment. Systems, Compliance, even Culture are just the tip of the iceberg of skills that new employees need to learn quickly to function.

Yet too many companies operate off the concept of learning on the job, which works when you are hiring a couple of employees at a time. Growth that has you amazed at how many new employees you need requires something a lot more strategic.

For you CEOs that define everything told to an employee as “training”, I need to burst your bubble. Talking at people, or reminding people of a topic is NOT Training. It is nothing more that information. Training is about changing behaviors, and talking at people rarely changes behaviors. If you don’t have a real training function, you are living on some shaky soil.

In most companies, the training function is both under staffed and lacking the competencies to make a difference. This is 100% the fault of the organization and the management team! You hired people that were willing to do the job, but didn’t know how. Then you failed to provide these people the training they needed to perform well for you. All that money you saved in compensation from not hiring experienced learning professionals is about to come back and bite you!

All hands on deck will require everyone in training to be on top of their game. You will need quality designers, trainers and strategic managers. If you are not capable today, then hire the talent to up your game before you step out on the field. Otherwise you are going to lose and lose big!

Is Your Training Function Lacking Awards?


lastplaceIf your training efforts are not winning awards, than you are either shy or realize your training function lacks what it takes to compete. If you know what it takes to improve the quality of your training results than make the necessary fixes and make a difference. If you have no idea as to what comes next, it is time for a Training Physical.

Often with new clients of the Training Physical, I ask them to read my book before we decide what areas and to what degree we will evaluate their whole training effort. While my experience tells me the hot spots that are probably the neediest, I want some self-discovery to occur before I interject.

Reading the book will prepare you to understand that the training function is a lot of moving parts. For the folks that think a workshop can solve any performance issue, these chapters can really open up their minds to how adult learning can and should be working. There are often many different issues collaborating against each other creating chaos for the organization.

But if you are like most organizations with a weak training function, not only does is it happen because senior leaders are unaware of what training should be doing, so are the current training management and team members. The training manager, the trainers and the instructional designers are trying to do their best even though they lack the skills to recognize issues, let alone fix them.

Training seems to be the one department in an organization that allows people to go without the necessary skills to perform their job, while at the same time management moans and groans about results. Why do we continually hire inexperienced people to work in the training function? That would be like hiring me to run your IT function. Within weeks my complete lack of an IT background would grind your operation to a halt, so duh, you wouldn’t hire someone with my background to run IT, and yet you hire people without a training background to manage training.

A strong training function produces employees that are able to perform their jobs well all over your organization, and a weak training function produces little. So honestly, if you are part of the senior management team in your company, why do you want a training function that is unable to produce results? Doesn’t it make more sense to make it a function capable of winning you awards for excellence?

285671_D1L1_01  Pointless Training Cover