Training is an Investment, Not an Expense

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

Organizations spend a huge portion of their operating budgets compensating employees. In return, they expect them to provide excellent products and services to their customers. Yet half of all employees say that they don't receive the training they need to do their job well.

Why don't organizations provide the training their employees need?

 

  • Many organizations view training as a frivolous fringe benefit rather than a vital business investment.
     
  • Senior management doesn't believe training programs are effective.
     
  • Training professionals have not done a good job of convincing senior management that investing in training yields tangible results.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO LEARN IF TRAINING REALLY WORKS

 

  1. Develop Clear Objectives

    The business objectives of training must be clearly developed at the outset. These objectives must be specific and quantitative. For example:

    One goal might be to improve customer service by reducing the number of customer complaints by 75 percent within the next 6 months.

    Another might be to reduce employee turnover of the top 50 middle managers by 100 percent within the next year.

     

  2. Make Evaluation a Mandatory Requirement of all Training
    Training program evaluation is much more than how the participants felt about the instructor and the refreshments. Evaluation is also more than determining whether the participants learned anything.

    Training programs must be evaluated to establish whether or not the program:

     

    • Improved the targeted employee behaviors, and
       
    • Met the stated business objectives.

    However, training programs are rarely systematically evaluated. Why?

     

    • Organizations would rather conduct another session or train more employees than pay for the evaluation.
       
    • Trainers fear that their bosses will learn that the training was ineffective.

     

  3. Conduct Pre, Post, and Post-Post Assessments

    For example, if the goal of the training program is to improve the "people skills" of first line supervisors, measures should be taken of their people skills before, one month after, and 6 months after the program. This provides a determination of whether the program actually changed behaviors.

     

  4. Use Control Groups

    Another way to rigorously assess the effectiveness of the training program is with a control group. In the case of the supervisory training example, a random sample of supervisors would be selected to receive the training and another random sample would serve as the control group. The control group would also be tested before, one month after, and 6 months after the training program. Comparing the behavioral assessments of the control group to the training group will prove whether the training program effectively changed the behaviors.

     

  5. Focus on Measurement

    Management typically does not insist on evaluating training because they believe that the targeted behaviors cannot be measured. They are usually wrong. Many types of behaviors can be measured. For example, I have helped organizations measure the effectiveness of seemingly unmeasurable behaviors such as the:

     

    • Interrelationships of employees in a culturally diverse work force for an organization that wanted to improve their employees' understanding of diversity, and
       
    • Career self-management behaviors of top performers for an organization that wanted to retain them.

     

  6. Communicate Objectives and Results to Senior Management
    Inform senior management about whether the goals of the program were achieved. Be sure to communicate the financial benefits of the program.

CONCLUSION

To make a strong business case that training is a good investment for your organization -- prove that it works.


Contact Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D., "The Survey Doctor"
President DISCOVERY SURVEYS, INC.
9 Blair Circle Sharon, MA 02067
Voice - 781-784-4367 Fax - 781-784-6450
E-mail - BKatcher@DiscoverySurveys.com Web - www.DiscoverySurveys.com

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