Are you wasting money on learning and development in your business?
I recently met the owner of a successful IT business. He told me he cut every budget in the current recession – except learning and development. He believed that having highly skilled and motivated employees – who can respond quickly to changing customer needs – were essential for survival.
Yet in most businesses, the learning and development budget is the FIRST place for cutbacks when times are hard. Why? because the majority of businesses are wasting money on ineffective, unnecessary training. If they don’t see a direct impact on the bottom line, you can’t blame them!
The result? over time, with no learning and development input, employees get “stuck in the rut” – afraid or unwilling to take risks, demotivated, and less able to respond effectively to customer demands. NOT good for business.
So is it possible to support learning and development in your business AND save money? Absolutely. Once you have a planned strategy and proper systems. Here are some of the steps involved:
1) Get into the Helicopter
Take a helicopter view of the business. What are the current problem areas? What are your plans for the future? What skills will be necessary? Hold structured interviews with a cross section of people – from the senior team to the operator level. And don’t ask “What training do you need?” – that comes later. Your first task is to identify the key issues. Use a funnel approach. Ask for views on three levels – business, team and individual. You may find an outside resource useful for this work; someone who isn’t making assumptions can often add value.
2) Head for the Mountains
What are the issues that stand out like mountain peaks? These are the ones to focus on. For example, you may have a low level of repeat business. A call campaign may be the answer – along with sales training.
Work out your training priorities in line with your business plan and agree them as a team.
3) Stop for Lunch
And don’t choose from the same old set menu. So many companies send people “off on a course” expecting them to come back transformed. This approach has a high failure rate and can be very costly.
Instead go for the buffet. Use a variety of training methods, all within your budget – that get you the results you need. Try short job transfers. Support distance learning. Train in-company trainers. Use the intranet. Hold webinars. The list is endless.
4) Don’t Get Lost on the Way Home
Many companies have an action packed training calendar – but get lost along the way and forget to assess outcomes. Keep track of before and after metrics. Coach employees before and after a training event, so they know why they are going and how they might transfer the learning on their return. Too often the response on workshops is: “I was sent..!!”