Imagine you decide to visit the doctor, because you are suffering from headaches and unexplainable lethargy. So the doctor looks at you briefly, and says “Here you are, I have a fantastic new pill that’s just come on the market. It’ll cure you right away”. You would probably be a little alarmed, to say the least…
The Cherry-Picking Problem:
You’d respond to him – “What?? Don’t you think you should examine me first, ask me some questions, and do a few tests? Maybe I have a brain tumour? Or a strange new virus… or maybe it’s just stress (I do hope that’s all it is, because I’m feeling pretty stressed right now!)”
Sometimes this is how organisations select training programmes for their staff. The new “flavour of the month” is picked off a tree, because it looks like a nice, quick-fix remedy. It’s been well packaged and marketed, and your colleague told you it really worked well for him. So you apply it, like a band-aid or a pill, to an ailing workforce. For a few days after the programme they are revved-up and motivated, but in little more than a week it’s evident to everyone that there’s been little change. “Why?”, your line managers ask “Probably because we didn’t get to the root of the problem”, you answer (or otherwise – “Perhaps we should try something new?”).
The Challenge of Changing Behaviour through Training
It’s terrible to see money wasted on training, especially in this weakened economy. Training can never be a “quick-fix”. With leadership and soft skills training, behaviour change takes a long time. We cannot expect real change to happen if we haven’t first identified what the problem is, then prescribed the most appropriate remedy, then monitored and assessed it regularly to check whether it is working.
The line manager comes to the training consultant with the problem: “My staff are not productive. They need Time Management training”. The consultant should respond with “Why? What exactly is the problem?”. Perhaps the line manager then identifies that, in his team of unproductive staff, John has a problem with planning and disorganisation, Jabu has a problem because he’s not assertive and cannot say no when asked to do other people’s work; Jean is inefficient because she doesn’t have the technical skills for the job, and Jacob is just plain de-motivated, so he doesn’t want to do the job. Perhaps then a time management course is only needed for one of the staff, and perhaps the others need different interventions.
At Copperline we prefer to do things the right way. There is certainly a place for short courses, like swift kick-in-the-pants, to help you to think differently, and then you’re back at work before you’ve lost too much time. But a more effective solution is training that focuses on the behaviour you want to change by examining practices and habits over time… then ensuring you give support and guidance while you’re changing those habits.
Knowing what you want…
Far too often we don’t get what we want, because we don’t know what we want. If you aren’t sure what you want, start by asking yourself – “What do I NOT want anymore?”. Then tell your training consultant. Facilitators and Training Consultants should be in the business of changing behaviour, not simply passing on information. Tell us what you DON’T want, or what want to change, and then we’ll be able to prescribe a better solution for you, and help you to manage it better.
…Then proving it is worth it
If you are spending your company’s training budget, you will probably need to account for the money you’re spending, and provide senior management with some form of proof that the money you’re investing in staff is paying off. If you want to make sure that your training interventions have a Return on Investment, here are some of the steps you should take:
1. Identify current problems or challenges that need to be overcome.
People don’t usually see a reason to change the status quo unless they see that there is a real problem that needs fixing.
2. Look at what has been done in the past, and why this hasn’t worked.
Sometimes we’re so busy re-arranging and re-organising, we forget to learn from past mistakes
3. Take a good look at the organisational strategy and vision, both long-term and short-term, and write this down so that all interventions are sure to tie up with this.
No-one should ever do anything in a business that does not contribute to the overall strategy
Now do the same with the strategy of the department where the problems are occurring:
4. Make sure you are aware of the key responsibility areas of the individual who needs training. It doesn’t help if, for instance you are spending money to improve skills that a person will never use for the benefit of the business.
5. Identify the key development objectives for the people who need training.
It helps if HR and line management have created development paths and career planning for staff members. Use the performance assessments system as well.
6. Consider all possible causes of the problems that are being experienced in that person’s or group’s performance at present. This may require deeper questioning, interviews and review of records
7. Communicate all of this information to the training specialist you trust to meet your needs. You wouldn’t withhold vital information from your doctor or your lawyer, so share important information with all professionals who need it to do their jobs
8. Together with the training specialist, design a suitable intervention to solve the problem, and outline the outcomes that must be achieved.Just as you are accountable, so should your service providers be.
9. Draw up a document to measure the outcomes and the action plans that will be achieved from the intervention. Assess the plan after the intervention has taken place, and be prepared to re-visit the plan if it didn’t have the desired effect
Copyright: Copperline Consulting
For more information on how to measure return on your training investment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.