Selecting The Most Suitable Training and Development Options for your Teams Dr. Matthew C. Mitchell






Selecting The Most Suitable Training And Development Options For Your Team

Dr. Matthew C. Mitchell

International Business and Strategy Professor, Drake University

In today’s ever-changing market conditions, professionals in all sectors need to develop and implement innovative practices to ensure their businesses’ success long into the future. By participating in relevant learning opportunities, all employees can learn business strategies that yield results.


In a recent conversation, I was asked to share some of my thoughts and recommendations for selecting the best training sessions for your employees. From a personal standpoint, I believe we are always learning no matter what we’re doing, and I want to be intentional about how I can make that learning align most effectively with my goals. I follow the exact same thought process when developing training curricula for clients; I take every opportunity to learn about my clients, their needs, and about their business environment, thus ensuring what we develop is fully aligned with their goals.


Below, I address some of the most common questions raised with regards to developing meaningful professional development opportunities and some tips on how you, as a leader, can develop a plan for the future of your talent management.


How can leaders evaluate training sessions and decide which ones will truly benefit them and their organizations?


In all dynamic environments, change can be perceived as a threat or an opportunity. Investing in yourself and investing in your people to acquire new knowledge and skills is an important personal and professional decision.


Many managers know inherently what their needs are. If we are honest with ourselves, many of us know where our strengths and weaknesses are. It’s important to pay attention to both. I believe leaders should invest in weaknesses to improve those areas so long as they are truly significant for the organization’s success. Make sure the training you choose aligns with your needs and the areas that are most important for your market- and the timing of your market. If managers do not yet possess a good understanding of their own weaknesses and strengths, an introduction to fundamental business processes would be a very appropriate first step toward improving how they lead their teams. I’d also recommend considering what your leaders are passionate about. People get the most out of experiences that align with their passions.


Managers are busy, so it may be difficult to justify the time it takes for ongoing educational opportunities. What if we don’t receive enough value for the time we invest in training?


Businesses that don’t invest in their people don’t tend to survive for the long term. I would strongly recommend that all organizations develop a long-term talent development plan. Consistent investments in training over time yield results.


We are all in an environment where we want to attract and retain the best people for our businesses. If you consider the cost of training versus the cost of replacing a good employee, the benefits of training outweigh the lost time and productivity.


You also don’t want to waste time on training, so making sure you select the right training is absolutely critical. Finally, ensure you select the right people for those training opportunities. Balancing the timing of the training opportunity for your business AND for individual employees ensures you’ll have the return on investment you’re hoping for.


What topics have recently emerged as being critical for managers to monitor in the coming months and years?


The most important trend that we’ve identified is the changing external environment. The fundamental business model of entire industries (e.g. transportation, energy, financial services, etc…) is being challenged by factors that require managers to focus on how they can continue to deliver value to customers through the unique services they provide.


Many of our clients have asked us about succession planning, and how they can develop future generations of leaders to run the business. They want to be sure they can handle the transition and give them the tools they need to be successful into the future. They want to honor the traditions of the organization, but also identify and embrace new opportunities.


In any training experience, we recognize that the content we’re delivering is only a part of the value that participants receive. A large part of the value comes from participants’ ability to share experiences in a structured environment with specific goals. Look for programs that encourage a lot of interaction, in-class activities, discussions, and debates that are based on proven research. In our work, we rely upon the knowledge and experience of subject-matter experts, but also experiences that are resident in the room.


This is an exciting time for training and development. Organizations have access to the world’s best training through a combination of globalization and technology. However, this can be both a blessing and curse. Many executives find themselves drowning in information, yet starving for useful and practical insight. As a result, it is critical to establish a clear talent development strategy to support all aspects of your business. Finally, it is also important to develop a network or portfolio of content providers that can supply all the different types of training opportunities your organization may require in the coming months and years. By developing strong and trusting relationships with a few select content providers, firms benefit from the experience and familiarity of a close network, while also providing sufficient diversity to meet all training needs.


Dr. Matthew C. Mitchell


International Business and Strategy Professor, Drake University

Partner, Bâton Global

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