“It’s not enough to teach knowledge, skills, or behaviors just for the sake of it. Training must connect to big-picture, company-wide objectives. Team members and leaders have to ask, `What do we need to be able to do so we achieve our business goals? ` and `How will we measure and show the impact of training on performance?’”
– “4 Training & Development Trends for 2016” by Shannon Leahy, UnboxedTechnology.com
There are really two kinds of training. The first and most basic centers on teaching employees to improve their performance of required skills and tasks. The second kind does that too, but produces far more transformational results, because it also teaches skills and behaviors that align with larger company initiatives and goals.
Here’s an analogy that demonstrates my point. First think of a golf caddy as a trainer. That caddy can walk the course and hand his golfer one club at a time and say, “This is the best club for this shot.” That might improve the golfer’s game. But what if the caddy added a higher level of information by giving perspective on the overall layout of the hole, the potential hazards in the path and even a strategy for playing the entire course?
Similar lessons apply in many settings. Do you want your son or daughter’s piano teacher to only teach the mechanics of pushing down a key, or to give an overview of a piece of music? If you are hiring a landscaper for your yard, do you want to discuss only one plant, or do you want to collaborate on an overall, transformational plan.
Given choices like those, of course you prefer the bigger picture. But how do you do that in panning your company training? Here are some important steps to take.
Define and Keep Your Most Important Objectives in Mind
For example, are you striving to create a company known for delivering superlative customer satisfaction? That is a great objective, but reaching it means defining specifics that can get you there – what you would like your training to achieve.
For example, you could plan to train your phone reps to resolve 90% of all complaints during customers’ first calls. Or to train those reps to deliver the kind of care that gets 90% of callers to report that they are “extremely satisfied” on post-call surveys. When you define goals, you can design training that achieves them.
Another way of stating this principle is, “begin with the end in mind.” That means understanding the bigger vision of what you would like your organization to become, then defining specific training steps that can get you there.
Break Down the Silo Walls
Trainers often are brought into different company sectors and encouraged to stay in them. They might teach skills for servicing or installing products, providing customer service, preparing food, or selling on the retail floor. But what if your trainers thought outside the silos and delivered valuable things that result in improvements across your entire organization?
One way to reach this objective is to initiate discussions between your training team and the people who create marketing and advertising, manage your supply chain, oversee your online presence, and more. The more disciplines you invite into the process, the more likely it becomes that your training team will find ways to make your training more encompassing and effective.
Don’t Create Training in a Vacuum
Whether your training team work in-house or you use an outside training development company, engage them in conversations about company quarterly reports, trade publications, company whitepapers and, news stories about your organization, press releases, and all the other pertinent documents you can provide. In sum, do all those materials suggest any untapped opportunities to align your training specifics with larger goals and initiatives?
Tie Your Training to Measurable Metrics
It is essential to develop a set of clear metrics to measure before and after training. It is the only way to understand what your training has accomplished and how much closer you are to meeting your goals.
Here are some suggestions for developing metrics that don’t just gather data, but reveal deeper progress:
- If your vision is to become a leader in customer service and retention, you can survey customers before and after training about their overall satisfaction with their last purchase, the likelihood they will recommend you to other customers, and other factors. What is your Net Promoter Score, or NPS? (If you are not familiar with NPS methodology, it offers a way to measure customer loyalty. You can learn more about it on the Net Promoter Network.)
- If you want to gain maximum value from a limited time offer (LTO) and offer training to support that goal, your goal could be XX% of sales change among employees who took the training. Measure and report on those results after the training has been delivered.
- If you are implementing HR training in an effort to increase employee retention and become an “employer of choice” for job-seekers, you can measure retention rates before and after training and survey employees on metrics like, “I see a clear career path if I remain employed” or, “I understand the criteria that my supervisor and company use to evaluate my performance and progress in the company.”