In part two of this series on using effective training to build a brilliant organization, I will show you why most training programs devolve into compliance drives and fail to increase productivity and boost the organization’s future performance. I will also show you how to turn the tide in your organization, increase the productivity baseline across the organization, and create the opportunity for your employees to challenge the status quo and boost the future productivity of your organization.
Boost the baseline
Most training programs these days talk about development; they do little to actually provide it. Instead, they effectively track compliance. This is awful, but it’s understandable.
Development, by nature, is difficult to measure. And when training programs are competing for resources within an organization, we need some way to justify their impact on the P&L. The cost of the program is clear as day. However, the benefits can be murky. To combat this imbalance and justify the investment in training, we look for metrics.
Unfortunately, the most measurable facets of training are the least effective. We measure attendance, or assessments, or annual feedback forms. Unfortunately, most of these measurements focus on compliance and not development. And that is a tragic mistake.
Once we use compliance to justify training, we reduce training effectiveness to be little more than a legal defense strategy.
Instead of shortcutting the process and using the easy measurements, you need to constantly refocus your decision-making processes and your training curriculum on training and developing your employees to be better at what they do. If you need to justify it, there are ways to do that, but more importantly, you need to build a culture where individual development is a given.
When you approach training culturally instead of financially, you position your training program to move you forward. To this end, keep the following in mind when “budgeting” for your training activities.
- Focus on engagement, not attendance: Great employees love to learn about things that make them better. When you focus on their development, you’ll see top performers engage more, produce more, and stay longer.
- Focus on the future, not the bottom line: Of course, you have to be reasonable here, but don’t let dollars and cents dominate the conversation. Instead, open the conversation up to what the organization will need in years to come and build your training around that.
- Focus on opportunity, not threats: Too many training programs are the over-reaction to something gone wrong (read lawsuit). Don’t put attorneys in charge of training. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s when you have to, but keep compliance on the fringes. Keep the core of your training focused on the development of future talent. Don’t use training as a disciplinary tool. Instead, treat it as a privilege and benefit for those who genuinely seek to improve.
Challenge the status quo
Once again, most training programs do not meet this test. Instead, because they were built and designed to keep us out of trouble, they usually become the bedrock foundation of the status quo. We tell our employees what to do and how to do it. It’s a one-way monologue save a few token requests for comment or forced discussions.
Don’t ever let the phrase, “This is how we’ve always done it.” anywhere near your training program.
Training by its very nature should cause us to do things differently. Think about how crazy it would be for a team to go to spring training, then come back, toss out what they’ve learned, and start the season doing exactly what they did beforehand. Yet, that’s precisely what we expect of our training programs.
Training should provide your employees with room to fail, try new things, challenge each other, and challenge the very way we do business today.
I cannot overemphasize how important this point is. Virtually every single great organization that lost its way did so by institutionalizing the status quo. And most of them had a training program that did little but speed up their inevitable decline by demanding compliance and smothering creativity.
By resisting the urge to prove your program’s effectiveness through readily available but ultimately wrong metrics, you will create the opportunity to spark the growth and improvement your employees need for your entire organization to succeed.
You’ll also set the stage for two more powerful transformations that will not only revolutionize your approach to training but create an exceptional capacity for future growth in your organization. We’ll explore both in the next article.
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