Adapted from: HBR| More Training Won’t Solve Your Company’s Problems by Sue Bingham
“The go-to response for organisational issues is typically some form of reactionary training. The mantra goes like this: Design the training. Deliver it. Move on.” Sue Bingham. Training has long been regarded as the universal panacea for all performance deficiencies.
Training on its own rarely solves the underlying problems. Most organisations don’t even measure the effectiveness of their training efforts.
The most important thing to consider is the necessity to train. Here are three questions to consider before paying for a training program.
- What is the performance gap you think the training will resolve?
Define that gap precisely, before searching for solutions. If the gap has been caused by a need for new knowledge and skills due to new processes, for example, formal training could solve the issue.
- What’s causing the gap?
Explore the gap further. Not all gaps are performance issues. Overcomplicated workflows, for example, is not a knowledge issue and therefore cannot be solved by training.
Fixing employee engagement by retooling rewards systems can have a stronger effect than just putting managers through training.
- Is training necessary to fix the gap? Putting it another way, only a lack of knowledge or skills can be addressed by training.
There are more effective solutions that can be implemented.
To tackle bullying, favouritism, and a lack of teamwork for example can be fixed by rearranging duties or putting the right people in the right position. Break down the problem to be able to address the core issue.
To uncover what the real problem is, senior leaders need to do some probing and critical thinking. It may not be a performance issue — it could be due to poor staffing decisions, unclear directives, or other business concerns. Because training is costly, managers should look at it as they would any other investment–with an expected ROI.
Many businesses are locked in a mindset that sees ‘knowledge accumulation’ as a cure for all of their problems. Training isn’t always the solution. Deliver only training that addresses a specific need. First and foremost, determine the necessity. Determine whether of the other key performance metrics is missing. Training will assist if skills and knowledge are discovered to be lacking.
Don’t be afraid to seek expertise in arriving at a precise diagnosis of your needs, and always train with the end in mind. Let’s discuss.