Business Surgery: How to ensure training makes a difference

ETC  my style - Jane Vincent, Menta chairman
ETC my style - Jane Vincent, Menta chairman
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Getting value from training isn’t magical, writes Jane Vincent, chief executive of WS Training.

There are some general principles that you can adopt to ensure that training for yourself and your staff results in changes in the workplace.

First, training that adds value tends to be integrated with other management systems. That is, training decisions and actions are carried out with reference to performance management systems, strategic planning processes and career development initiatives. Training must be managed so that it is planned and deliberately and clearly linked to workplace outcomes. When training is used as a reward or its goals aren’t clear to all concerned, it is rare that it has any positive impact.

Second, training that adds value has three components. First, there is the training planning component. Then training occurs. Most important is the third component – follow-up. Mechanisms must be in place to provide reinforcement to the learner for his or her efforts to implement what has been learned.

Finally, training that adds value occurs when there is an infrastructure in place that supports the learner’s application of what has been learned. For example, if people attend a workshop on the use of a computer-based word processor, training will only add value if the software and hardware is available and in place when the person returns from training. While we normally think of infrastructure as relating to things, it can also refer to elements like time. For example, people attending a course on the use of effective management techniques will only be able to use what has been learned if they have sufficient time to do so.

So, getting value from training requires integration, planning, follow-up and infrastructure. While getting value should be a shared responsibility on the part of attendee(s) and manager, the manager plays a critical role in helping to create the conditions under which training will add value.

All too often, managers do not take an active role in the decision-making and follow-up necessary to allow training to add value to the organisation. As a result, resources may be wasted, and frustration can result. Keep in mind that managers need to work with training attendees before and after training so that the training will make a difference. Training must be linked to both individual and organisational needs, and barriers to application of learning must be removed. Often the manager makes the difference between training that is just a day out, and training that really brings about anticipated benefits.