Dr. Dewett returns as a member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Dr. Dewett is a leadership expert and professor at Wright State University, author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and Harley nut. Full Bio…
Training—Why Do We Waste So Much Money?
by Todd Dewett
I often argue with executives when they demand to see an ROI for training investments. Let me be clear, they are justified in demanding an ROI. However, if we are being completely honest, calculating an ROI is nearly impossible for most training activities.
What then can we do to help the brass have confidence in our training expenditures? A lot!
We must get the right people, the right training at the right time, the right way, and there must be transfer of learning. If you spend a training dollar that does not meet all of these criteria, you are flushing money.
We train the wrong person for many reasons. They are new and all new people receive (fill-in-the-blank-training). They need educational credits to meet company policy. Sometimes we send folks to training simply to use up the budget in an effort to ensure that we receive the same amount or more next year.
When do the right people need training? There is only one good answer: when it is needed! Unfortunately, we supply it when it is available, when the learner’s schedule allows, when the budget is approved, etc. Simple fact – the more time that exists between the emergence of a genuine need and the application of training, the less effective the training will be.
When we do train employees, we often train the wrong way because we fail to realize two vital truths. One, not everyone is fit to stand in front of a group of learners and help them learn. In fact, some trainers are so bad, they should not be allowed to teach. If Human Resources would like to improve its reputation instantly – force out the trainers who regularly receive poor ratings. The troops will love you. Two, everyone learns differently. Thus, variety is the spice of life. Books, CDs, online videos, traditional classes, applied learning activities – mix it up. The more approaches you offer, the more likely you will hit any given learner’s learning sweet spot.
Finally, even if you get the right people the right training at the right time, delivered the right way, you still have not added one bit of value to the individual, their group, or the organization unless you also ensure transfer of learning. Transfer of learning is taking what you learned back to the job. Unfortunately, more than half the time this transfer does not happen. One reason the person and the training aren’t well matched as we’ve been discussing– the person was the wrong person and received the wrong training delivered at the wrong time and in the wrong way. Other common reasons are more insidious – the person’s direct supervisor and key colleagues do not know about the training, don’t care about the training, and make no real effort to try and derive value from the training on the job.
Training and development dollars are precious. Though good ROIs are tough to come by, believe me, people know great training when they see it. Considering the factor above won’t help you with the ROI, but I’ll bet they will protect your budget just as well – and they will certainly boost learning, morale, and productivity in your organization!