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What’s the point of training?



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Over the past few months, an image has been making its rounds on LinkedIn, carrying an imagined conversation between two c-suite executives:

CFO to CEO: What if we train an employee and he leaves?
CEO to CFO: What if we don’t and he stays?

While there are obvious advantages to sending employees for continued up-skilling, are you making sure the programmes your employees are attending are the most effective? How do you address the issue so you can manage the concerns on our imagine CEO and CFO above?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks I’ve heard from HR leaders when it comes to training or learning opportunities is time management. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit I’m guilty of it myself.

When it comes to attending a training session, be it something off-site or in the boardroom 10 metres away, it can be common for employees to want to wriggle their way out of it until the absolute last minute.

The reason for this is not likely to be that they don’t want to become better employees – they do – but a heavy workload, looming deadlines and back-to-back meetings can take precedence over something like training, which is often viewed as a task that can be rescheduled.

Here are some common loopholes in L&D or training programmes you should keep an eye out for, to make sure your employees’ response to another training session is not: “What’s the point?”

Online training

This is where online or blended training has come in – and why it has become so popular as a training method in recent years – because it helps to cater to employees who are either reluctant to be away from their desks long enough to learn the basics of a new skill, or to adapt to the changing business dynamics where a trainer and trainee may not be in the same location.

However, one of the biggest disadvantages of online or blended training is the lack of personalisation. Yes, it’s convenient, often user-friendly and can be rolled out to thousands of employees or even offices with the click of a button, but there’s something not quite right about learning from a machine.

One way HR can mitigate this issue is to ensure that while online learning materials and programmes are always made available to employees, a trainer or subject expert is always on hand to clarify or help employees who might be struggling.

Lack of an objective

Even in this day and age, there are unfortunately still pockets of companies who send employees for training if only to tick a box or fill a budget requirement.

These are usually the same culprits who fail to follow up with employees or line managers post-training to make sure the new knowledge is being properly applied to the workplace.

Sending employees for training is a great starting point, but doing this without a clear objective or goal may be doing more harm than good for both the employee and organisation.

Be it internal or external talent development programmes, make sure the training is aligned to a particular business need or is designed to plug a specific competency gap.

This will also make it easier to convince employees of why they need to attend the training. Once the learning programme is completed, hold employees and their line managers accountable for applying what they have learnt into their daily work routine.

This will ensure a win-win situation – employees learn something new, become more satisfied once they see how applying that new skill can help their productivity, and it proves our hypothetical CEO’s point.

Disparity in employee competencies

Unless we’re talking about the tip of your talent pyramid, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to provide one-on-one training to every employee in your organisation.

But even in a small group of 10, not everyone in that training room is going to have the same level of aptitude – or even attitude.

Like many things with the function, there is never a be all and end all solution to this issue, though it might be better managed if employees sent for training and group as closely as possible to their skill sets, levels of competencies, or the reason they’re being sent for training.

This will narrow the gap for the training provider and ensure no one in the group feels left behind or under-valued.



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