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Feb 23, 2012

The mild winter put people in the mood for in-depth discussion about February’s HR Roundtable in Cincinnati topic – How do we keep Training & Development today?

There was a particularly large crowd who gathered to take on this topic and the get them started, Steve offered the following three questions to stir things up:

  1. What things hinder effective Training & Development in companies today?
  2. How do people retain what they learn?
  3. What is the VAST difference between “Training” and “Development?”

The energy level in the room rose dramatically once everyone broke into small groups to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings about this area that so often gets relegated to the side in companies. When they reconvened, they had fabulous answers and insight to share. Take a look.

What hinders effective Training & Development?

  • Budgets — This is a “fact,” but it’s also a crutch. Ironically, companies want to have the best and brightest in their firms, but when the first economic squeeze hits, T&D budgets get chopped quickly. Maybe companies should look at these dollars as “investments” vs. “expenses!”
  • The culture of senior management — If you don’t have people leading the company who encourage, foster and believe in training and development of their employees, then there is no bigger wall to break through. This can influence the budget argument. It also shows if a company chooses to be limited and static vs. positioning itself to function strategically.
  • Lack of vision — This is so key that it could be its own Roundtable topic! HR is at the heart of this more often than not because we tend to train when we either are 1) In trouble because we hit a compliance issue; or, 2) we lack the creativity to develop and sustain these efforts. Having a clear vision would set the stage for a wildly successful movement within companies and should be a key component before implementing the next “flavor of the month best practice.”
  • Time and staffing — This strikes the same chord as “budget” does. If these components of a company are not valued, then there will always be a lack of time, funding and staffing assigned to T&D. There needs to be more of an argument in this area than ROI. There has been to sustainability, value and behavioral shifts which show tangible results.
  • Reactive vs. proactive — We all fall victim to this as a trend in HR. We tend to work from behind and are tentative to push ahead. With T&D we need to take a different stance because there is no reason to work from behind. Why is that a good business practice? If we’re always striving just to catch up, we’ll never make an impact on our businesses.
  • No perceived value — Yet another trap. HR gets mired in the CFO mindset to develop a massive ROI model in order to justify our “value” to the organization. However, it’s also a key factor for our employees who attend our efforts. If they don’t see that they can use what is taught, then that is a much more critical loss of value than any financial issues will ever generate.

How do people retain what they learn?

  • Use it or lose it — We often forget this building block for all T&D efforts. Employees who can’t incorporate what they’ve learned, it evaporates very quickly.
  • Reinforced by supervisor and/or management — This is another truism, but it rarely happens. Think how wonderful companies would become if supervisors were held accountable as part of their on-going performance if training reinforcement was included? Think about it!
  • Context and relevance — Too often HR worries about games, Power Point appearance, use of time, logistics, etc. and we miss the important fact that T&D needs to have context and relevance. If employees don’t see themselves in what you’re delivering, than your efforts are for naught.
  • One size doesn’t fit all — Even within compliance training, HR can customize things to fit their company and culture. It has to once again resonate with the people and not just be cookie cutter fodder. It’s a great opportunity to be creative and try out new approaches to material.
  • Humor –– This is so true and often overlooked. If people laugh when they learn, they retain it longer. It’s been proven over and over. We need to be careful here because you should be wary when people self-proclaim them as “funny.” Make sure you have humor naturally involved in your efforts vs. planned and forced. That will be remembered also – but not the way you’d like it.
  • Tell stories — People remember stories more than they do facts. It’s easier to relate to other’s experiences vs. just hearing a litany of data and statistics. Your training and development programs will jump in quality the more you can incorporate stories.

What’s the VAST difference between “Training” & “Development?”

There was an incredible tie of these two areas together, which is listed after the differences, so make sure you read all the way through these!

  • Training Development –– Short-term focus/Task Oriented Long-term focus/Skills oriented.
  • Group based (more often than not) Individually based.
  • Focuses on the “today” needs leads to the “tomorrow” results.
  • Compliance area strength opportunities to develop strategic approach.
  • Training is the means to a development end — This was a great process look at these areas seeing how training could lead to future development. It’s important to remember that not all training leads to development, but it could and you should see if this is how to look at things in developing that “vision” mentioned before.
  • Need to look at Training and Development together vs. pulling them apart — Loved hearing this! It was really cool to hear this brought up and the group concurred. There are facets of both training efforts and development efforts that have value. With a strong, constructed strategy and vision, incorporating these to things is actually very natural.

This was an incredible Roundtable, and the energy, laughter and networking made it even better.

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