Make training pay off

11th Oct 2010
Share this content

Jane Massy, CEO of abdi, shares some top tips to ensure training makes a positive difference on the way staff perform their roles.

How important is training to an organisation? Is it seen by most as an ad-hoc event or an integral part of staff and business development? Most companies systematically invest in training and CPD for their staff because they believe it will make a positive difference to performance within their job, and therefore improve the business. But many firms do not know what this difference should be before they invest. 

Many are also failing to track the precise behavioural outcomes of training and making the vital link with improved performance. So if training is viewed in terms of 'sheep dipping', it will cost the UK millions of pounds and have little or no impact. Instead, training must be seen as a key tool for business development, and treated it as an investment, not a cost.

Don't view training as an ad-hoc event

Training should be seen as an ongoing process. Crucially, it should never feel to employees as imposed from the top down, but conversely that the participant is involved in the process from the outset and gets some influence – and that it is an investment in their future.

What do you think will improve that person's ability to do their job better, and how would they answer the same question? If you don't know what you want somebody to do differently from the outset, you cannot expect to know whether training has been a success from an individual and a business perspective.

You should be collecting evidence at every stage of the process – some of it will be simple, some of it more complex, but it will all contribute to a picture of the success or not of a particular programme.

Ask participants how relevant it was

Is the training likely to cause change at all?

Nobody has a better insight into the nature of somebody's role than the employee. The most fundamental data pertaining to the success of a programme can be gained by simply asking the participant "how relevant was that training to your role within the organisation?" Ask them directly – don't just hand them a piece of paper.

If it had little or no relevance to the individual, then it will have had the same effect on the business. Only training which can be proved to be relevant to the business, and closely aligned to pre-determined aims should be maintained.

If staff didn't find the training relevant, you know you have to go back to square one and plan again. Bad results don't have to be a negative – they're valuable evidence something wasn't working. 

"The most fundamental data pertaining to the success of a programme can be gained by simply asking the participant 'how relevant was that training to your role within the organisation?'"

Set realistic targets along the way

You need benchmarks or you'll have nothing against which to gauge success. Part of this benchmarking process means setting relevant targets with the participant themselves.

By now you'll know what you want them to do better as a result of the training, so keep a close eye as the process unfolds. Working with the individual, go back to your initial aims (which should have been aligned to key business objectives), and discuss performance openly.

Enhance targets as progress is made

It is not unreasonable to expect good performance early on in the process. If training is effective, the performance of staff should improve as training progresses, and you'll have recognised exactly why this is. Go back to your original benchmarks and look at how targets can be enhanced.

When staff are challenged in the right way, they are more motivated and want to perform better. If training is allowed to stagnate then progress will be stunted and the staff de-motivated.

Report results out

You'll have been collecting data and evidence along the way – using it to link behavioural change to the intended learning outcomes of the training programme. Keep an accurate record of discussions with participants along with your own observations.

Crucially, you must share all of your findings with others within the organisation, or there will have been no point collecting them. Most importantly, senior management must see the results – particularly the person who signed off the investment. They will want to know how their other investments performed, so why should training be any different?

In instances where training is designed to combat a particular risk – such as health and safety or fraud for example – the investment should be planned with risk managers.

From my experience, this rarely happens and firms expose themselves to reputational and financial damage due to lack of alignment with the risks which have been signed off by boards.

Finally, share findings with the individuals themselves and - of course - their line managers. The latter need to see the data on whether their staff think the training was relevant and important to their job. They need to know their staff have learned what they were expected to learn. Line managers must then work with the staff to make sure the investment is put to good use.

 
Jane Massy is CEO of training evaluation consultancy abdi, working with public and private sector organisations to improve the effectiveness of training interventions. For more information visit www.abdi.eu.com

Replies (0)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

There are currently no replies, be the first to post a reply.