Thursday, September 25, 2008

Training for training sake? Improve training ROI

By sending people to seminars and training courses you expect them to come out as better leaders, better employees and better supervisors. The trainee may seem changed for the first few days they return to the office, but their excitement dwindles and things soon go back to the way they were before.

Without hard evidence that training is making a difference, why do businesses keep spending millions on training and development each year? Are we just training for training sake?

Ron Ulrici from R and S Associates brought up this big HR mistake in a recent post, suggesting that training will only be a success if we include it in the overall system within our organizations.

Building on Ulrici’s advice, here are some ways to improve your training ROI and ensure you’re not just training for training’s sake:

Get managers to buy-in. Before sending anyone out to participate in outside training, make sure their boss knows what the training involves and what they can do to foster newly-learned behavior the employee may returned with.

Outline desired goals. HR, trainees and managers should meet prior to a training course to outline clear expectations for employees after completing a training program. Defining training goals before sending employees through the program will create a benchmark to help measure employee progress.

Measure effectiveness in performance appraisals. When appraisal time comes around, address how well or not an employee was able to implement training in their work. Measure the progress a trainee has made and how well they attained their goals.

Follow-up. After completing a training program, HR should meet with each trainee and their supervisors to measure how effective the training was, if the employee is putting their knowledge to use and to asses any difficulties the employee may be having applying the training to their job.

Encourage practice. Work with managers to be sure trainees have a chance to practice what they learned when they get back to the office. Find practical ways for employees to put their knowledge to action with small projects or presentations.

Preview seminars and workshops. Don’t encourage outside training programs before you know exactly what they’re all about. If the messages delivered in the program or seminar don’t match your business culture, the message will be lost. Even worse, employees may be punished for exhibiting behavior learned during training.

Forgetting the follow-up is a sure way to lose any new habits an employee may have learned during training. Get everyone on board and prepared for follow-up training to ensure you’re not just training for training sake.

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