Ensuring that training transfers from education to performance and profitability is critical in today’s market. What can businesses do when faced with a plethora of options?
Knowledge is a form of power. This is an age-old adage. However, it is more true now than ever. As Eric Hoffers puts it, the learner will inherit the earth during times of change, while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. With technological advancements and an increasingly competitive market, it is critical for an organization to have a workforce that is not only skilled, but also continually improving its skills. No business can expect growth in the future if it is dependent on yesterday’s successes. Management anticipates and even demands an increase in performance efficiency. This can only occur in a culture that values and encourages learning.
The Difficulty of Choosing Performance-Based Training
You may have been tasked with the responsibility of creating and/or feeding this learning environment. No training department can meet everyone’s requirements. According to a 2002 report by The Conference Board, 55% of businesses outsource some or all of their training functions. There are numerous instances when you should look outside your organization’s expertise and seek out learning providers. However, a quick internet search will send you fleeing for cover! It’s mind-boggling how many vendors want to teach your staff virtually anything. From sales to forklift safety, from OSHA compliance to tropical disease training, we’ve got you covered. Whatever subject you wish to teach your staff, you can find someone who is willing and even eager to come to your organization and teach it.
Selecting an effective training programme is a complex process that requires diligently matching an organization’s needs to its employees’ needs and then aligning both to produce desired outcomes, which are typically increased performance and profits.
The process is complicated because effective training incorporates a company’s style, voice, mission, and a variety of other customized elements not available in off-the-shelf training options. What enterprises truly desire is to arm their workforce with information that is actionable in the moment and adds value to a specific product or service in real time.
The Advantages of Outsourcing Training
Why would you outsource your training when your organization is likely to have numerous qualified Subject Matter Experts (SME)? Outsourcing portions of your training function can provide your organization with a number of benefits. The prospect of long-term cost savings is probably the primary factor that motivates the majority of businesses to outsource. While you can pull SMEs away from their regular jobs to develop content for customized training for your staff, the cost of lost productivity combined with the SME’s lack of knowledge of sound educational principles usually results in a disaster for the final learning product. By outsourcing, you not only save money on lost productivity, but also on software and printing costs. You shift the vendor’s fixed costs to you and only pay a per-use fee. Often, this will result in a savings of thousands of dollars for an organization.
Additionally, you gain the benefit of having your staff concentrate on what they do best – running your business. While some of the learning that occurs within your organization is highly customised to your industry, a significant portion of the training you require can be delivered more efficiently and with greater expertise by an outside vendor. Your staff is freed up to devote their valuable time and attention to developing new products and services that benefit your customers and bottom line. Just as you concentrate on your business, a good training vendor concentrates on business learning. Often, an external vendor will have cutting-edge technology or the most recent development in a particular field. Utilize their research.
All businesses strive to ensure that all employees within the framework and extended facets of the business are perpetual students. This belief holds the hope that all functional teams within an organization’s ecosystem are self-directed, self-motivated, and self-sufficient. This desire is the impetus for the majority of soft-skills training programmes developed and offered.
Gerald O. Grow proposed a self-direction model in the early 1990’s that adapted the arguments advanced by Blanchard’s situational self-leadership model. Grow argued that in order to improve training effectiveness, we must transition away from instructor-led platforms and toward participant-driven classrooms. Such self-direction is only possible if the student embraces the concept of perpetual learning.
Grow suggested that in order for learning to become self-directed and training to succeed, organizations interested in optimising their training efforts needed to understand the stage at which individuals were.
The goal is for professionals in today’s marketplace to transition from being reliant on someone to coach them to becoming self-directed in a consultative environment where adaptability and flexibility are expected. Additionally, successful training programmes incorporate each component into their activity arsenal, allowing the instructor to assume the role of a coach, motivator, facilitator, or consultant regardless of the participant’s location.
Choosing the Correct Program
Thus, how do organizations overcome the challenge of selecting appropriate training that produces measurable results while also engaging and motivating their workforce?
The simple approach to training selection would be to jump on board with the latest fad or trend. Jim Collins made reference in Good to Great to the fact that great organizations are those that maintain a status quo of core beliefs over time. Almost every organization that considers adding new external components to strengthen existing processes must consider the degree of change that will be introduced into the enterprise.
People are aware of the need for change and hope that each new idea complements and supplements the existing system in some way. Changing course is acceptable as long as the public understands that the company is not changing the destination with each new input. This is where frustration enters the picture. The steps below will assist you in selecting a training programme:
1. Verification from all departments that are involved directly or indirectly in the process as to what is required to strengthen it.
2. Being receptive to new ideas from anyone who comes into contact with the customer.
3. Input from personnel regarding new skills they wish to acquire and gaps that must be effectively addressed.
4. A metric provided by the training provider that demonstrates the ability to track progress prior to, during, and after implementation.
Additionally, if the training provider can quantify the approach and provide sophisticated dashboards that provide a snapshot of where improvements are occurring, this simplifies programme selection.
6. Researching training companies that can tailor the approach to include process customization for a particular industry.
7. Benchmarking an enterprise’s effectiveness not only internally, but also against the broader industry in which it operates.
within to determine the type of training that the competition is employing to capture the same market share.
If you’re considering how utilizing an outside vendor could benefit your organisation, you’ll need to consider how you’ll sift through all of the available options. Before investing in a vendor’s learning content and delivery, there are seven critical questions to ask.
Consider the following: Measurable
#1 Critical Question: Is the training quantifiable?
Of course, this is the age-old question: how do I know if I am receiving an adequate return on my investment? Numerous evaluation equations are available to assist you in calculating your return on investment. Probably the most widely accepted model is Kirkpatrick’s four-level evaluation model. In this model, you evaluate training based on reaction (how the trainee feels about the training); learning (how much learning occurs); behaviour (how the trainee’s on-the-job behaviour changes as a result of the learning); and results (did the learning meet the desired results.) A reputable outside vendor should be able to demonstrate how they (or you) will evaluate the program’s effectiveness on at least two of the previously mentioned levels.
Training programmes that demonstrate measurability and are designed with reinforcement in mind are more successful because they are built on the premise of eliminating guesswork. If the training group is surveyed on their skill set prior to implementation, and the programme is tailored to the specifics of the survey, the programme can be tailored to focus on the areas most in need of improvement. This affords the learner the luxury of knowing that the training’s objective is to close the gaps that are impeding their true success. Additionally, when reinforcement for acquired skills is provided weekly in the form of distinguishing information, validation is complete.
By seeking out and requiring tracking mechanisms that enable you to prescribe solutions based on real data and diagnosis, you give yourself a better chance of achieving meaningful improvement for the individuals you train.
Contact Ziglar Australia for the complete sales training selection report.