Is training effective today?

Training by companies in this day and age is centered in quick, impactful information to get the employee to improve their methods to increase productivity. The gradual evolution of training has given birth to a host of models to choose from and methods to deliver it to people. These may  involve Online courses, zoom meetings, with the occasional classroom style training in the form of seminars and the ever-collaborative training as “best practices” training.

Changes to company training since the 80’s have brought benefits from improvement of employee output, to increase productivity and compliance standards, reduce turnover and increase in innovation strategies. All of this increases the company’s bottom dollar in the end. Employee training is important in satisfaction, motivation, a clear status of how the employee’s current work level and prepares the person for new challenges.

What is the reality of training?

From what you read at the top, training might look quite straightforward and accomplishes the goals the company needs to grow and be more competitive, but some of you might see things on a different light. Questions like:

Do the employees take the training serious?

Do employees think it was a worthwhile?

Do they understand how to take this new information and apply it successfully to their work?

These three questions might be the most important feedback the trainer/organization might look forward to determining how effective their training improves productivity. As technology allows for organizations to be more sensitive as to what their workers need to succeed, training itself has become very bland. Trainings will never answer every little or gap that can come across during their work, and yet some companies believe that once the training is done, everyone involved will immediately be able to use the new skills they have learned.

So, here are two questions in addition to that, are trainings transferring information or are they transferring skills to the workers? Are companies considering the way people learn or the importance this training is to them, what does it mean in the general view of their contribution to the work done?

Among the many models created in the past I mentioned about before, one interesting model is the percentages of how a person learns. The learning pyramid from the National Training Laboratories shows a good breakdown how a person can maintain new information and how to transfer that information to others. This pyramid goes beyond the “visual, tactile and auditory” we speak about when someone tells us “This is the way I learn”. It brings about the method of learning by doing, a practical way to take a person teach them and ensure the skills needed to be learned is done to retain and apply with no doubts as to whether the person has learned the skills necessary.

A hypothesis (or a light bulb moment I got)

At this time, let us review the process of how a person is trained. From the discussion at the beginning, the main reason for training is to enhance the skills of the person which will in turn provide for more productivity and greater profits to the company. But there are other, more secondary reasons, to look again at how we take training to a new level and at the same time benefit the person and the company.

First question, what are the goals for this training? Yes, yes, yes, all roads lead to productivity and the bottom dollar, but training is an exercise in forecasting, planning, and guiding that future to be one that provide us with more productivity and greater profits. Second question, is what we are teaching something that will benefit the employee in the long-term view of their career? Their job? (These are not the same, go with me on that for now!!)

Some companies see training in a negative light because they have the fear once the employee is trained; another company will offer them more money and will lose all the time invested in training that employee. It is the valid concern of small employers since it takes great time and effort to train people in a manner that will yield success for that business. But at this time lets concentrate on training as one part of the solution.

When training, all employers wish to train people fast, only once and all is good in the world, that is not the truth, but we all think it at times. So, we need to prepare the person for training, making sure they know they need to be mindful of what is being taught. The person needs to see what they are asked to do, this is where a trainer will begin point out the key points (or the “this is important” blurb). After the first run, the person will try it with the trainer guiding him through and also explaining the “why” of the key points, it is here the person will learn and be able to be involved in the process of doing the work correctly. And here is where I see a gap that forms when a person learns the mechanics and not the reasons behind it thereby making the person accountable for the actions they take. If you do not know why you are doing your work, you can easily believe it is not important to you, which in turn does not benefit the company.

From this step next comes the real clincher for the whole training to take effect: follow up. Once the training is done, there must be a way to revisit with the person to find out if they are putting their knowledge to work. This will involve checking on the individual frequently at first, then slowly make the check-ins at lesser times until the training checks stop all together. These checks can be done by the trainer or the supervisor with a straight intent that these checks are temporary. At this time, it is established the person knows the new skills well or comprehends the information from the training.

There are other reasons to have this method be the backbone of your training, namely when looking for trainers, succession planning, and improvements to the job itself, but those can be discussed later. Right now, this training method’s main goal is to ensure the person gets most of the training while being supported and lowering the incidences of errors.   

In the end, training is an investment in the people that will grow the company, and in teaching and verifying the person knows what needs to be done from start to finish, the company is ensuring they have personnel that will work for the benefit of the company. This is the return on investment that lets everyone know if it is effective and yields growth.