Never waste money training again

Hard earned and scarcer than ever, money needs nurturing and when you choose to use it as an investment in your Features > Business, you want to be sure that there is no waste.

Here is our guide to making sure that your training plan, as well as always enhancing performance in your Features > Business, adds value and doesn’t leave you wondering if the money has been well spent.

1. Target your training at your commercial goals

Plan and target your training specifically to achieve the commercial goals of the next three years. Always roll the three years on annually. Gael M McDonald in a 1989 Human resource Journal wrote ‘the primary role of training is to equip employees with skills to ensure proper job performances and to facilitate either individual or organisational changes.’ Don’t deviate from this path and get dragged into regarding training as a chance to exchange different viewpoints or share experiences. Accept these as a by-product but be clear training is designed to assist you to achieve your business plan more efficiently, more effectively or both.

2. Align your plans

Take your external or internal training resource through your commercial goals and strategy before commencing the training plans. Terrance Donahue from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation in the US quoted what he called a ‘scary statistic’ in 2007 – that 85% of training department heads had never read a copy of their own company’s strategic plan or annual report. That surely can’t apply in the UK?

We think Parato’s law works well here. Let us say that 80% of training is relatively generic in concept form. Then 20% is about you and your way of interpreting and applying the concepts. That 20% is in your vision, mission, goals and culture – that is why you need to clearly brief your training partner on just what you are in business to achieve. If they can really understand what you are about, then they can help you stretch that ‘you’ segment from 20% to 25% and then 30%. At this point you will be really starting to differentiate yourself from the competition, which in turn will increase the personal, unique value of dealing with your people and your business.

3. Establish training needs and an evaluation process

Find out what your people think they need to be competent, to achieve their commercial goals over the next three years. Your teams tell you what they need, your training partner sources the solution. We conduct training needs surveys face to face and in a conversational style. They can be done over the phone or on-line but we find face to face the best as we can probe behind some of the topics, understand the tone of the conversation and really get to grips with the issues that are concerning the individuals.

The programme then is designed with its own goals and objectives that are driven by the commercial goals of your business and the training needs survey. You must also decide at this point how you are going to evaluate the success of your training. For guidance Donald and James Kirkpatrick’s book ‘Evaluating Training Programs’ (2006, Berrett-Koehler Publishers San Francisco) can be a real assistance. They advise a process and four level approach to really understanding how to evaluate your training programme.

4. Assign support

Decide which and how many of your management team needs to be designated as mentor or coach to the programme. The purpose here is to ensure that the new training receives support back in the real life work environment. What we are trying to avoid is ‘this is great but when is my manager going to attend?’ which through personal experience we have heard rather more often than we’d like. Numerous companies and organisations put whole disciplines or departments through training programmes in one go designed to eliminate such observations and also quick start behaviour back in the workplace.

5. Execute your plan

Get the right people on the course, in the right place and make the training interactive and pragmatic. Your training team must strive to have the participants desperate to hit the straps by their delivery style and experience. Stress that the purpose for being present is to aid progress in achieving business plans.

6. Review

Take time to reflect with your trainers performance against evaluation criteria (established in step 3). Involve your mentor or coaching managers – and review your programme and training team accordingly.

We accept that little is fool-proof but following this plan and process we believe gives you a head start to establishing real value via training with the added bonus of eliminating any waste of investment. Both elements can deliver competitive advantage and that in turn leads to customer loyalty and the preservation of profit.

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