Training Sessions Need To Be More Than Pointless Jollies

I am sure those of us who have engaged in training have often found ourselves rolling our eyes when people turn up for training not knowing why they are there, so Bill Spindloe’s article will ring true for both HR and training departments alike.

Whenever you’ve undertaken a training course arranged by your employer, the chances are that when your boss asks you about its value, your response has invariably been positive, regardless of how much you actually learnt.
Far too many learning and development programmes in the region are to say the least ill conceived. There’s not an organisation in the world that would manage to stay in business if their processes were as inefficient as the methods firms here use to train their staff. It must be costing millions in wasted time, money and resources, but more importantly this ad hoc approach is a lost opportunity for you.
Here’s another phrase to add to your jargon dictionary – Scrap Learning. Essentially, this means learning which is successfully delivered and understood, but which is never likely to be practically applied to your job role.
We’ve all been in seminars or workshops arranged by your employer, which not only prompt you to wonder why you’ve been sent there, but who you’ve upset to have been shipped off to such a tedious affair! It’s a chance to hang out in a nice hotel, enjoy a tasty free buffet and spend a couple of days away from the boss. Why would you complain?
Therefore, when HR ask you about the value of the programme, you’ll probably make all the right noises about how interesting and valuable it was. You’ll be considered for any future away days and the people that organise these events feel vindicated and the cycle continues.
The problem is that you’re assuming a great deal of thought has been put into what courses you attend. In reality, the chances are that the training was a knee-jerk reaction to a challenge the company was facing, or that the particular course tapped into something that sounded flashy and relevant. Something would have ticked the right boxes, rather than necessarily being right for you.
These are the questions that need to be asked: ‘What are the needs and focus of the business? What are the gaps in knowledge, skills or abilities that need to be addressed in order to meet the challenges of the business? How can we link learning to goals?
How are we going to measure the success?
Not; are there any training courses we need to send our people on?
HR and learning teams need to determine the business needs, then lay out some clearly defined performance requirements, set goals and targets to measure the impact and then look to organize some sort of learning events.
The fact is that the lengthy classroom style learning is on the decline; and not before time. I dread to think how much information an employee actually retains after a lengthy seven-hour session.
Smaller bite-sized sessions that fit into the company schedule must be the way to go. Not everything has to take place in a classroom either, provide short e-learning courses, embrace forms of social learning or video based scenarios. This could be followed by a group or one to one discussion to re-enforce understanding and context.
The HR and learning departments need to truly take their place as a partner to the business and advise, consult, understand and help measure not just the return on investment but the return on expectation, rather than simply being the department that organizes seats on training days. Otherwise they have no right to complain about not being taken seriously or a less-than-useful training budget.
Bill Spindloe has been working in human resources, learning and organizational development for over 22 years, consulting and advising varied industries including airlines, oil and gas, hotels, manufacturing and the banking sector. His work has seen him working with clients in Asia Pacific, Middle East, North America, and Europe.