Training and Development Today

How is the training function responding to current challenges in the ever-changing business landscape?


Employee Training in Today's Workplace

Organizations continue to grapple with a constantly changing marketplace and internal restructures. In this mix, training managers and practitioners are being increasingly expected to deliver more with less. They are expected to produce real organizational benefits from their employee training programs within shorter time frames and often with smaller training budgets. How are they meeting this challenge?

In an effort to leverage technology, larger organizations are adopting ever more comprehensive enterprise-wide Learning Management Systems (LMS) to deliver, track and report training programs and expenditure. Small- to medium-sized organizations on more limited budgets are also finding ways to identify, track and report employee skills. Many of these smaller organizations as well as single business units are turning to our nimble training tracking software to help them meet a tight training budget.

The bold predictions that face-to-face classroom training will largely disappear with the rise and rise of e-learning has proved to be largely a chimera. Webinars and other collaborative electronic tools are seeing increased use as the costs of travel and accommodation continue to rise. This development is a bonus for organizations watching their training spend. However, even here, the role of the trainer/facilitator remains center stage. The job of trainer is assured for some time to come.

Training Programs and Project Management

Also having an impact on the training industry is the increased attention being paid to the discipline of project management. "Projects" with unlimited budgets and never-ending timelines trying to satisfy fuzzy organizational objectives are becoming tolerated less and less in today's business world. Hence, the demand for project management training has seen a dramatic rise in the last ten years. With this we have also seen an increased interest in project management tools and methodologies.

How we manage training projects has also matured. As discretionary budgets have continued to shrink, rolling out expensive employee training programs to satisfy ad hoc requests from department managers with no clear organizational rationale is no longer a viable option. More training projects are now being run using an Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model.

Using such a model guarantees that the learning objectives of the training program tie in with a real organizational need. It also raises an organization's confidence that the training program will be of high quality and satisfy the needs of all major stakeholders.

Training Tools and Resources for Effective Training

Budget constraints and increased business competition have also led to a recent emphasis on the payback on training expenditure. Poor training needs analysis (TNA) and change management practices in the past have led to an extravagant wastage of training budgets, with experts estimating that only some 10 to 20 percent of training dollars spent results in actual benefits to the organization.

Donald Kirkpatrick's traditional four-level model remains as the most used model for evaluating the effectiveness of training. This, however, has been supplemented by Jack Phillips with a new fifth level, Return on Investment (ROI). Practitioners not wanting to go down the ROI path have chosen instead to focus on Return on Expectations (ROE).

How much are you using the new performance consulting approach in improving the effectiveness of your training programs? With this approach, poor employee and systems performance is diagnosed using accurate and effective performance diagnostic tools before any action is taken.

Using a systems view, all workplace factors influencing employee performance are considered. The upshot is that training may not be the appropriate solution to a performance shortfall in every case. The eventual solution may be multifaceted, highlighting process deficiencies, irrelevant or inadequate rewards and recognition, ineffective goal setting, and so on. Using this approach, training is no longer a naïve, single-point solution, but is perhaps just one component of the final package.

Many managers, however, are yet to give up their knee-jerk reactions to problem solving, grabbing the first solution that enters their mind. A resource that has proved helpful here for both managers and training practitioners is our toolkit, From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance.

Training Systems Best Practice

Is your training management system becoming more effective and efficient in delivering organizational capability? Many training professionals have continued to move their organizations towards training best practice. Some do not know where to start.

Excellent human resource best practice models have been available for some time. Two prominent examples are the U.S. People Capability Maturity Model and the British Investors in People. Whereas these excellent models take a broad sweep over the people activities of an organization, our own Training Management Maturity Model focuses exclusively on the capability of the learning function.

No doubt, training systems will continue to evolve as we learn more about how people learn and as technology continues to develop in leaps and bounds. The next ten years are destined to be even more exciting than the last.

Expert View Author: AIMM MAITD

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From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance

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