Now more than ever, your training department must become an everyday part of the overall organization. Your training area may have been reactive in the past, designing and delivering training only when it was necessary or requested. This mindset is no longer applicable, especially in today’s economic turmoil. As the leader of a training organization, you must transform training from a “sometimes” event into an integral, cultural part of the overall organization. It’s time for “no excuses training”, and there are several ways to make the transformation.
The most important part of moving to “no excuses” is to prove that you are a strategic business partner and not a reactive organizational appendage. When you are asked to show the results of a particular program, don’t report in terms of numbers trained. Conduct further analysis in order to determine how the training impacted the bottom line. Did productivity increase? Did errors decrease? Did the training create a cost savings or bring in new business? When you take this approach, you’re proving that training is part of the organization’s success. But there’s more to this style of training management. If you’re asked to create training, look at the desired final result in terms of numbers that mean something to the target audience. For example, if a new product has been rolled out, how many sales need to occur in order to make that product profitable, and how can training impact those sales? Start thinking in your audience’s terms and not training and development terms. This mindset will go a long way.
Next, show how the organization can become a “learning organization”. The first way to do this is to end “training for training’s sake”. Look at your programs and determine which ones have no impact on the organization’s success. Remove or revamp those programs so that they are producing concrete results. Many times training departments continue delivery of obsolete programs simply because that’s the way it’s always been done. “No excuses” training requires you to take a hard look at your programs and staff and move forward. In addition, consider re-branding training so that you can show how learning programs create job satisfaction, retention, mobility, and productivity. Go on a “road show” or deliver “brown bag” lunch sessions to show associates how training can help them. Prove that people will come to training because they want to improve, and not necessarily because they were ordered to do so.
Third, you must move the training department into the 21st Century. Classroom training is still necessary, but are participants listening to an instructor for eight hours a day? Are they being given the opportunity to practice with systems, role-play with sales and customer service, and discuss topics with others in the class? What about online training? Is it self-directed, engaging, and appropriate for the online environment? Do you expect people to show up for training when they could be trained online or via videoconferencing? Social networking is part of the younger worker’s life, so why not try to create video podcasts that can be downloaded or viewed on YouTube? Have your instructors create and moderate blogs that allow training participants to network and discuss their issues. “No excuses” training means that you have to deliver in multiple methods that match your multiple generations of workers. But when you do this, you’ll find that you are creating a learning culture that is second nature.
Fourth, you must get C-level buy-in for the first three actions. You’re already thinking about training in terms of numbers that relate to the audience. How do proving value, creating a learning organization, and 21st Century training methods relate to the executive level? Most likely they are relatable in terms of money saved, efficiency gained, and productivity exceeded. Show the executive team how your plans will impact the organization and they will help create the learning culture and move it down into the organization. When the C-level is on board, they will help you position training as an everyday and necessary part of individual and organizational growth, and not just a reactive occurrence.
Finally, you must deploy the training staff differently. They must buy into the new order of things without feeling like their jobs are in jeopardy. Show them how new methods and changes will make them more marketable to the organization and how they will be seen as consultants instead of instructors or designers. Set the expectation by moving the training staff from the proverbial “ivory tower” and into the trenches. By making the changes you’re going to make, you’ll show the way – and weed out the individuals on your team who are not adaptable. “No excuses” training does not only apply to the organization – it applies to the training department, as well.
As the world and its organizations change, the training department will change with it. When you approach training with these concepts in mind, you’ll set up learning as an everyday part of life and as a contributor to corporate success.