Just about every modern business that wants to be worth its salt has accepted that ongoing investment in the training and development of staff is critical. So why are so many businesses so reluctant to invest in training and development? The answer is that most businesses who are wary about investing in training and development cite their fear of spending a lot of money and time on employees who may well end up leaving afterwards.
This is a risk you’re going to have to take though because the alternative, that is to have unmotivated and “deadbeat” teammates hanging around, is a fate that is way, way worse.
So we’ve broken down 5 of the most common mistakes that businesses make when training their staff.
Not Knowing What It Is You’re Training On
There are so many ways that we fail in running businesses when on reflection, it all seems like perfectly good common sense. This is one of those areas. So many training programs fail and not just in smaller businesses but incorporates too because the facilitators simply don’t know what they’re talking about. This is where you as the owner/department manager needs to take the lead. Invest in “train the trainer” programs so that you know that your facilitators are adequately prepared to train on the topics that they are presenting.
Is Your Training Material Relevant, Fit for Purpose and Interesting?
The best-laid plans of mice and men. It’s a good idea to have training material that is comprehensive and covers all of the main developmental factors, but simply “throwing” information at people is not the way you train. Many training programs fail even at the corporate level because there is simply no engagement with the material. Don’t assume that your teams know what you’re talking about when you start a training program. Programs should be “on the job” based, and have clear pathways to development and a quantifiable end. An end that is reached through creative testing. The material should be interesting and easily relatable for the most possible saturation.
Don’t do that “thing” that corporates are often guilty of doing and try and get over as much information as your training time will allow for – this will lead to superfluous information and solid waste of time.
Are You Listening to the Feedback Coming From Your Learners?
If you’re going to run a successful training and development program then getting regular, real-time and honest feedback about the training that’s taking place is very important. If you’re not conducting mid-term assessments and confidential feedback surveys – you’re missing out, big time. Failed training programs cost American businesses billions of dollars every year. It’s worth it to take the time to make sure that your program reaches the touchpoints that it’s intended to and that those touchpoints are applied in the workplace after.
Follow up surveys should not just be conducted immediately after training sessions, but again a couple of weeks after and then a couple of weeks after the second survey again. The data that you get from these surveys is useless on its own but if you’re serious about it, this data can give you almost as good as real-time feedback as to where you’re teams are at.
Do Your Facilitators Meet Your Teams Where They’re At?
All major studies agree: the maximum attention span that you can extract from a leaner at just about every level is 20 minutes. Every minute after that that does not inherently focus on engagement and interest is virtually lost. So training sessions need to be broken down into workable sections. For example, introductions of the topic into a section with workable, quantifiable outcomes-based tuition into a section that tests for comprehension. This will ensure that your teams are not just there for the sake of being there.
One of the biggest problems that companies face that offer training programs, is recruiting and then placing the right kind of facilitator with the right company. You can’t place a young, inexperienced and overly bubbly trainer in a law firm for example. Even though you can train the delivery of material, having instructors that have at least some work experience in the topics they’re teaching in, will ensure that teams remain engaged and interested.
Are You Conducting Your Training Sessions After Normal Work Hours?
This is an all too common and unforgivable mistake. Expecting your teams to stay behind after hours to take in a training session of a couple of hours is a literal waste of money. You would do better to wager the cash spent on that training in a bet about how much information is being absorbed, but you’ll lose it anyway. After a long day working, the last thing that anyone feels like doing is sitting in a training room, listening to a facilitator go on and on about “increasing profit-making” or “workplace essentials”.
Any successful training program will start in the morning and end at lunchtime. If you’re conducting off-site training over the period of a few days and you’re at a hotel or conference venue, then that’s a different story but you’ll still have to schedule in breaks and make sure that your teams are relaxed but still ready to learn.
There are all sorts of ways that you can make your business run better, training and development have to be one of them. If you can’t do it yourself then you should think about outsourcing to a company that specializes not just in training but overall HR administration. The training function usually falls to the HR division so it makes sense to approach your HR team whether onsite or otherwise and get them involved in developing your training and development strategies.
The Final Word
An IBM study revealed that employees who feel that they can’t grow or develop themselves where they’re at are TWELVE times more likely to leave the company they’re in, there’s a reason why all the smart guys are investing more into employee retention programs now than ever before. The days of finding one job and sticking there for 20 years have all but vanished, so this is something you want to look into. As to the argument that some businesses make that they don’t want to risk spending money on training employees if they’re just going to lose them anyway, well consider how much more you’ll be losing by having unmotivated, unskilled staff on your team.