Examine this scenario:
Walter is not performing will in his role as a marketing manager. He lacks the ability to prioritise assigned tasks and manage his team. Walter’s supervisor decides to recommend him for a two-day effective manager’s course, organised by a reputable training institution.
Three months down the track, Walter has his performance reviewed and the following discussion ensued:
Supervisor: How useful was the course you attended three months ago?
Walter: Really good. I took some notes, learnt about some relevant concepts, found the lecture materials relevant and met a lot of people.
Supervisor: That is nice; but Walter, I have received complaints from some customers who logged some enquiries with your marketing team five weeks ago and have not been attended to. Moreover, I discovered that our customer base has not gone beyond the figure we had last quarter. What could be responsible for these?
In other words, despite attending a two-day course, Walter’s performance has not really improved.
However, if Walter had met with his supervisor before attending the training, expectations would have been succinctly spelt out and buy-in or commitment gained from both sides. A welcomed practice is to create a learning contract, which incorporates all expectations from the trainee, in terms of job performance after the training, hence forcing him/her to attend all sessions and seek opportunities to gain maximally therefrom.
Engaging trainees prior to attending any training activity, is synonymous to providing a context for the training. Many employees are not aware of how the training they are signed up for, relates to their performance or their job. So they attend the training without being engaged or accountable for the results.
I have heard some employees complained that they were just asked on the training commencement day, to resume at the training venue! How could these trainees be committed to the performance objective tied to the training?
We must ensure that all assigned training activities are linked to the employee’s performance of a specific goal or competency, either to address a performance gap, or to expand their knowledge, skill and experience, so they can accomplish their personal goals and, by extension, achieve the expected business results.
Another factor in driving returns on training investment is the identification of employees’ learning styles. Individuals learn differently and have a preferred or dominant learning style. While some learn by hearing (auditory) and by looking (visual), others learn by doing (kinaesthetic), reading and writing.
Therefore, Learning and Development professionals must understand how their employees learn best and then ensure that the proposed learning intervention adequately caters for their preferred learning style. A blended learning approach, as provided in FITC, is learning which incorporates self-study, online learning, instructor-led presentations, case studies, group exercises, role plays, video sessions, etc. has played a prominent role in the delivery stage.
The next major factor is the level of support shown trainees while attending the training. Although, it is expected that trainees prepare a proper hand-over notes before embarking on any external training, this has not prevented trainees from being distracted by office calls during training sessions.
Sometimes, they are required to resume in office before proceeding to the training venue and also return to office to complete their work. How would this type of arrangement empower the trainee to deliver on business expectations tied to such training? Where employees have been scheduled for any learning activity, organisations must guarantee an uninterrupted learning experience throughout the course duration.
We should also consider post-training debriefing session between the supervisor and trainee as a factor in achieving quick returns of training investment. By this, the supervisor demonstrates commitment to the training plan and engenders a performance-driven behaviour, with positive impact on the bottom line.
The post-course engagement with trainees also serves to address possible constraints in the work environment that is capable of affecting learning transfer and performance outcome. With the right tools and appropriate supporting structures in place, trainees would be able to deliver learning outcomes that are in line with performance expectations agreed in the learning contact.
Although, the above-mentioned factors are by no means exhaustive, Learning and Development professionals would be better able to isolate the bottom-line impact of training investment and justify their relevance in the entire organisation, if these often neglected factors are taken into consideration.
Maxwell, John C. (2013), “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn,” Center Street, Hachette Book Camp, New York, USA, October.
Price, J (2014), “How to Maximise the Return on Your Training Investment” a blog post of 15 September. See more at: http://www.jpabusiness.com.au/blog/posts/james-price/2014/09/14/how-to-maximise-the-return-on-your-training-investment#sthash.Hgpn8gg5.dpuf