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How many training dollars can your company afford to waste? Print off this resourceful article and cut your losses!

How to Get the Most from Your Training Investment

In the training profession, you hear all kinds of figures bandied about, like “over 70% of all training fails” – a shocking yet non-attributable statistic.

Whether you deliver training, select trainers or have to account for training outcomes, providing ROI – “return on investment” is of paramount importance. How do you demonstrate that your investment was money well spent and provides ongoing value past the training event?

With “hard skills” training, it’s generally a lot faster and easier to determine whether the training has hit the mark. It’s much more difficult to assess soft skills training effectiveness as results aren’t as immediately accountable or obvious.

There are several strategies that trainers, meeting planners, training and development professionals and business owners can use to maximize positive training outcomes.

First, be clear that training is the right solution for the issue you want addressed. Before any training program is implemented, make sure that a thorough assessment identifies the root issues rather than the observable symptoms that require attention. “Spray and pray” training approaches targeted on resolving symptoms are simply ineffective and a complete waste of resources. Next, having identified the root issues, determine whether training is the appropriate solution.

Training should then align, connect to and support company strategies and objectives. With so much focus bottom line results, no business unit can afford training misfits! The training designer should have an intimate knowledge of company culture, operating style and business plan objectives to create a training experience with maximum effectiveness and fit.

Be realistic about what you expect the training to do. What are the results you expect? There’s a big difference between the investment and outcomes derived from a conference workshop break-out session and a multi-session training program. What are the success milestones or benchmarks? There’s a basic question you can ask to help determine this. “By the end of the training, what do I want my attendees to have experienced, to know or be able to do?”

Participants need to know the benefits of attending ahead of time – WIIFT, “what’s in it for them?” Attending a training program or event that’s been deemed a waste of time before it commences provides a major hurdle to overcome right from the start.

Make sure the presentation will be “adult friendly.” The presenter should deliver in a manner that observes adult learning principles. While there are many to consider, observing these “basic three” provides a good beginning. First, recognize that the attendees have a wealth of their own personal experience that needs to be acknowledged and tapped into. Second, be mindful that participants want to learn something that will be immediately useful to improve their situation. Finally, know that the audience wants a positive, enjoyable learning environment where they won’t be lectured to.

Determine beforehand that the chosen trainer is experienced and authentic about the topic being presented. While professional accreditation and designations are important, being able to effectively relate to the topic through personal experience makes the presenter more connected and credible to the audience, especially if an outsider to the organization.

Before the training takes place, provisions should be made in policies, programs and procedures to be able to accommodate and immediately integrate and apply the new learning. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to immediately apply what you’ve just learned. This requires advanced planning so that any needed changes or alterations can be identified, accommodated and in-place after the training has been completed.

With constant change and staff turn-over in many organizations, it may be difficult yet essential to find an internal champion who can coach and help keep the momentum going after the training’s conclusion. If this simply isn’t practical, consider engaging the services of a professional coach for this role. Often training initiatives fail because no-one has been selected to be an on-going, motivating resource.

Have a feedback method in place to know that the training investment is positively impacting the on company’s objectives. Select appropriate “markers” that would indicate desired training outcomes are being achieved. As previously mentioned, this is more difficult to ascertain with soft skills based training.

Make sure your training initiative is management backed and in the case of soft skills training, that the desired behaviours are also modeled and coached by management. As tough as this may be to ensure, it is absolutely vital for any training initiative’s on-going credibility.

In essence, training that effectively replaces old habits requires useful and relevant “new-doing” which then promotes new behaviours which result in new attitudes which foster improved desired actions! Training effectiveness and impact are a function of accurate assessment of real needs, careful preliminary planning to create a supportive post-training work environment, selection of a professional, “experienced” trainer and a training initiative that’s skillfully aligned to key priorities and goals. Just like painting, it’s mostly in the prep!

Copyright © 2007 - James Crookston

To find out more, see Lifeset’s “Getting the Most Out of Your Training” presentation.