"My boss told me too..." Let's start with this common comment. On a positive note, at least the manager is providing training opportunities. Sometimes these participants are there as part of a manager's communication plan on a new topic. We see training used to introduce new concepts and improvement philosophies regularly with the hopes that the trainer creates awareness and desire to move in a new direction. If you are using training as part of your communication plan for a new initiative, don't let it be the first exposure. Make sure the attendee knows why they are going and why it is important that they develop this new skill. "What is important to my boss is important to me." Don't put all of the responsibility on the instructor to create desire. If the manager shows the importance, then the trainer can feed that and create more knowledge per given training time. Other times the manager is just checking a box and "sending people to training." If this is happening, you are wasting training money, training time, and credibility. Just stop it.
"It's in the budget so we have to do it" This is a variation of the checking the box issue above and leads to training waste. Create a training needs assessment and identify the gaps that are holding you back. From this, create a training plan to address those gaps. Don't put the kids in charge of the cookie jar... create a plan. That plan is the start of getting an ROI from your training budget.
"It is a company paid vacation" When I hear this one, I know someone is checking the box or spending a budget and the training falls into a category that might possibly be a morale booster but certainly not a learning event. Put a stop to it and create and execute from the training plan.
"Training is good for the team" This is only true if someone comes back and does something better. If they don't, it is bad for the team because they have to pick up the slack while the people are out on "training."
"Training is good for morale" There are many studies that show training is indeed good for morale. Some even show that it is better than a raise. But, all this hinges on application of the training. In the training environment the student will get excited about the new information they learn. But, if they return and nobody will listen to them as they share what they learned and nothing changes to allow them to use the training, then morale will surely plummet. You will want to create a plan for how they are going to use the training as a whole and the specific learning objectives when they return. Enable their success and check in on them so that you can remove roadblocks.
"We have a learning culture" This one warms my heart. Many companies have created a kind of continuous learning culture where training is on-going and is a regular part of the person's work habit. The key thing here is still application. It is great that we are continuously learning, but if we don't do anything with it, then it has a short retention period and offers no return on investment. This creates a life long learner instead of a continuous "improver". You are creating that guy who is still in school and has seven degrees at 39 and has never worked a day in his life.
"I enjoy learning new things" What a great person to have on your team. Now let's figure out how we can use their passion for knowledge to share with others as they continue learning. Can you let them be the aggregator and then empower them to distribute that knowledge to your organization? Could they be an internal coach, mentor, or instructor who boils down the lessons, and makes them site relevant for application?
In the end, to make your training dollar most effective, check these six boxes:
- 1: Stop the nonsense
- 2: Gap analysis
- 3: Training plan
- 4: Application plan for each training event
- 5: Remove roadblocks to application
- 6: Empower your enthusiastic learners to share