Training is expensive, and businesses need to ensure they receive the maximum benefit from the training they pay for. The value of too many training sessions and seminars is lost because of a lack of pre-training and post-training support, or because what is learned during the training is never fully implemented or becomes unused.
Whether you’re training a member of your clerical staff in the operation of a new computer programme or a factory worker in the use of safety equipment, there are several principles that will help you obtain the maximum return on your training investment. If the training you pay for doesn’t make a positive contribution to your business, it’s usually because these principles aren’t being followed.
Training must be worth the investment
Training has a cost, and it should also have a value to the business. It should have a measurable result that translates into a quantifiable outcome. Some typical examples of training outcomes are: more efficient use of equipment, reduced risk of accidents, better management practices and enhanced productivity.
What savings will result from the equipment’s being used more efficiently? This should mean time savings and/or more productive use of staff time, both of which can be measured in financial terms. If the potential savings can’t be quantified the training could represent a poor investment of the organisation’s funds.
For best results structure your training
It’s insufficient to simply send someone off to a training course and expect them to come back with magically improved performance. All training should be conducted in a three-step process that prepares the person for the training, trains them, and then supports the implementation of what’s been learned.
- Preparation – The person being trained needs a complete understanding of the purposes of their training and what it’s expected to achieve. They should be given a clear picture of what they’re being trained for and how the training will be conducted. They should also be told the cost of the training to give them an appreciation of the investment the business is making in their development.
- Training – It’s your responsibility to see that the content of the course fully meets the needs of the business it is meant to address. If, for example, the business plans to upgrade its credit management software, personnel will have to be trained in the use of the new programme. The selected course must be specifically tailored for this software and also must be compatible with the equipment in your office on which it’s going to be installed.
- Implementation support – When the person returns from their training, review with them what they’ve learned. Be sure they have all the support needed to implement their new knowledge and that they can apply their newly acquired knowledge as soon as they return to their workplace. This can mean some form of IT support, assistance from other members of the team, or additional resources such as manuals or equipment. Follow-up to ensure the learning is correctly applied and that the anticipated value is received by the business.
Get your money’s worth
It’s important that you have an agreement with the employee that the training they undergo will be used to benefit the business as much as possible. Some possible elements of this agreement that can be summarised in your company’s policy and procedures manual are:
- That what they have learned from their training will be applied to help them better perform their job responsibilities
- That what has been learned from the training will be shared with other members of the team if it will help them perform in their roles
- That you will support them in their implementation of what they have learned in the training
- That they are encouraged to request any additional materials or equipment needed to ensure the successful application of what they have learned
Training is a management responsibility
Successful training requires management to have all the necessary elements in place including a way to identify the needs of the business and select the training that best meets those needs. Training must also satisfy the needs of the individual as well as the organisation. Management must follow-up after the training so that the knowledge is fully implemented and creates the intended value for the business. Only when training is appropriate, conducted correctly, and well-implemented will the ROI to the business be optimised.