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Three Conditions to Ensure Training Works

As managers we are judged on the success of our team. It follows that our team members need to have the knowledge and skills to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Many managers turn automatically to training as a way of solving issues. Additionally, “I wasn’t trained” is one of the most common defences in situations where performance is under review.

Training has its place. Of course it does, but it is not the universal panacea. It will only work where there is a training requirement, so the starting point is to establish whether the cause of the issue is an undeveloped skill or a knowledge deficit. For those situations, a well-designed programme with tailored content, relevant case material, skill building practice, and a final measurement of skill acquisition, works well. But, if the cause of the problem isn’t a training need you’re wasting time and money – and the problem won’t be fixed.

Acquiring learning is a result of thinking, not teaching. It happens when people reflect on and choose a new behaviour. But if the work environment doesn’t support that behaviour, a well-trained employee won’t make a difference.

There are three conditions needed to ensure a training solution works.

Under performance or misconduct suggests that something might need to change. It may not be caused by a lack of skill. Individual behaviours are influenced by many factors, for example, how performance is measured and rewarded. These all play a role in shaping employee behaviours. Before you commit to training analyse the cause of the problem.

If you conclude that the cause is a skills or knowledge deficit and training is needed, there has to be commitment by the individual and the organisation to change and allow change. If you define the skills employees need to develop, and consider the conditions required to reinforce and sustain those skills once a training solution is implemented. Just because a business recognises the factors driving unwanted behaviour, doesn’t mean it’s open to changing them. If the business isn’t willing to address organisational causes of a problem, training will not yield its intended benefit.

The training solution must directly support strategic priorities. When a company deploys a new strategy, for example, launching a new product, training can play a vital role in giving people the skills and knowledge they need to help that strategy succeed. But when a training initiative has no clear purpose or end goal, the risk of failure increases.

If you are going to invest in company training, make sure you are addressing a strategic learning need. Be sure your business can and will sustain new skills and knowledge by addressing the factors that may threaten the success of the training outcome. If you aren’t sure you’ve got these conditions right, don’t spend the money.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2019 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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