Getting Training Right

Getting the most out of training whether it’s trainer led or e-learning is one of those perennial problems for all businesses.  The training return on investment (ROI) is discussed on forums, at conferences and in academia constantly but sometimes the simple things don’t seem to be sorted out initially.  For any training to be effective for individuals, business groups and their organizations it needs to be appropriate to their particular needs.  Quite a simple statement, but one that is crucial to the success of any training.

By considering some of the reasons why training might not be seen as being effective we can take actions that will ensure that when people attend courses or register for e-learning they know exactly what that they will get.  The following four areas, if taken into account by businesses when procuring training or developing their own in-house can help in ensuring that the benefits to individuals and their organizations are more effectively met.

Training is Specific, Not  Generic

Delegates and those that fund them to undertake training must know that they will be able to readily take back what they have learnt and implement it.  For this to be the case it has to be closely aligned to the needs of the business.  Training that is of a generic nature often fails to grab the attention of people as they simply don’t relate to bland descriptions that they could just as easily have read in a book or on a web-site.  Just as off-putting are examples that are overly simplistic which while they may demonstrate a particular issue they don’t relate to the real word experiences of course participants.

Training is Not Over-Sold

In any competitive marketplace sellers need to advertise their wares and training is no different in this respect.  The difficulty comes when objectives developed by training professionals become marketing material either as a direct copy or get edited to sound even more attractive.

If a company sees advertising that states that ‘after the training you will be ale to do x, y and z’ they quite naturally expect that people coming away from that course will be able to do just that.  In some cases that may be possible but for many courses ‘being able to do x, y and z’ will only happen at a sufficient level after it is practiced back in the workplace for a period of time.  It is not uncommon for people returning from courses to alter their behaviour as they endeavour to put into practice what they have learnt and this can be seen by others as a downturn in performance, albeit a temporary one (hopefully).

Training at the Right Time

Despite the myriad of training opportunities available putting aside sufficient time to complete even a one day course can be a problem.  Attending training is often driven by the availability of the training at a suitable venue and at a price that can be afforded.  All managers know that training should be at a time that meets the need of the individual and the business.  Training that is delivered too early can lead to skill fade where the person simply doesn’t have the opportunity to put into practice what they have picked up on the course.  Conversely training that is delivered too late can either be a waste of time as it is no longer required or can cause the individual personal difficulties as they try to unlearn what they have learnt on-the-job.

Training for People who Work in Groups

While a great deal of training is suitable for individuals to undertake to develop particular skills the vast majority of business is undertaken not by individuals but by ‘teams’ or ‘groups’.  The tasks and activities that such groups undertake can only be effective if everyone fully understands their role and how they and the group interacts with other groups, suppliers, customers and many other stakeholders.

If individuals are being trained individually perhaps by differing providers who have a different slant on the same topic then it is reasonable to assume that the resulting effectiveness of the group will be sub-optimal.  Compare this with a scenario where a group attends training that is designed specifically to meet their ‘group’ needs.

Focusing on what the group needs to develop and strengthen (functionally based or process driven), better engages people as it will be focused on what they need to achieve in their business role. [This is not teambuilding but is taking the role of a group and building the capabilities of those group members together.]

Getting The Training Right

Taking all these together and providing targeted training to a group that is delivered when they need it greatly increases the chances of success.  Not only will the training be seen as successful but the group will be able to demonstrate improved performance far sooner.

Just In Time Team Training (JIT3), with the Just In Time referring to getting the training achieved ahead of when it is needed and allowing sufficient time for new skills and behaviours to become the norm is no doubt more complicated to design and deliver but the benefits to individuals and their businesses have to be worth it.


4 thoughts on “Getting Training Right

  1. Hi Ron,

    Seems we have similar views on getting training right. Whatever the subject matter of the training is, if a small number of people are only there for attendance purposes then it can be a real downer for everyone else concerned.

    Providing a business can divide it’s training needs between that which is directly business delivery related and personal development then this problem ought to be avoided. Unfortunately, it usually isn’t!


  2. Hi Paul, it looks as though our respective blog posts crossed. I think your ideas are well in tune with my thinking. Too often, I run a programme only to discover that several people are not involved in running projects and will not be in the future. They are there for a number of reasons:

    1)they can do a certain amount of perdonal development and this course ‘seems to fit the bill’. No, i have nothing against perdonal development but we should fosuc on organisational needs first
    2) they need it for their CV…for the next job

    Using your criteria, I hope these people will not be included! It will mean targetting training to the right people. One other method is to use the project register and look at who fufills which role. That is the target group for training including senior managers.

    My blog article focusses on the step after training. Training itself can really help in the development of individuals. But, development is not a 2 day process; it involves activity beyond the training course. I hope you do not mind me taking the opportunity of giving the link to the article; they are very complimentary. The link is – forming your own project management academy

    Regards, Ron Rosenhead

  3. Thanks so much for this great post. It is an exceptional set of criteria for companies to understand how to bring quality to the training arena within their organization.

    Blanket training rarely works, targeted, specific and with a defined outcome is always best in any training environment.

    Your insight will definitely make a difference! Thanks.

    • Patti,

      Thanks for your very kind words. I’m a strong believer in ensuring training is targeted correctly otherwise it simply washes over people. Providing training to teams or groups who work together just makes sense to my mind.


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