What Must Be True for Corporate Training Effectiveness

What Must Be True for Corporate Training Effectiveness
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Corporate Training May Not Be the Answer
Far too many managers, all with good intentions regarding corporate training effectiveness, leap to the conclusion that corporate training will be the answer to their employees’ performance or behavioral problems. This would be fine if the $90b+ in annual learning and development investments in the US alone reaped tangible results. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. For example,

  • Only 10% of respondents to a recent McKinsey survey said their companies’ frontline manager training is effective in preparing managers to lead.
  • According to ES Research between 85% and 90% of sales traininghas no lasting impact after only 120 days.
  • Our own research across over 800 training projects found that only 1-in-5 learners, regardless of content area, change their behavior from training alone – even if it is well-designed training!

Where is the Corporate Training Disconnect?
The disconnect between well-intentioned corporate training and measurable results often lies in the lack of understanding of the root cause of the problem. Corporate training done right – relevant, well-designed, practiced, coached, reinforced, and rewarded – can effectively address an undeveloped skill or important knowledge gap. But if the problem is deeper or more systemic, training alone is not the answer.

For example, if you find your team is too slow to make decisions and take action, it may not be because they don’t know how good decision-making works. They may be stymied because the work environment does not support them for such reasons as:

  • Lack of strategic clarity
  • Ambiguity regarding who owns the decision
  • Too many layers of bureaucracy
  • Unclear expectations and roles
  • Lack of transparency and hoarding of knowledge

3 Things that Must Be True for Corporate Training Effectiveness
Real workplace learning is the result of relevant thinking, doing, and reflecting – not teaching. Employees need to understand the objective, agree that it’s worth their effort and time, be encouraged to apply it on the job, and recognize that the new behavior is in their best interests as well as those of the team and organization as a whole.

When you want to make sure that training can make a significant difference in employee behavior, three things need to be true. For corporate training effectiveness, you need to be clear that any training solution is:

  1. Aligned with Strategic Priorities
    Before you launch any kind of corporate training initiative, you must establish a clear and compelling business objective. Different from a learning objective, an effective business objective is measurable and directly aligned with a key strategic priority. Once your business objective is clear and agreed to with your key stakeholders, you can then define the key learning objectives, skills, and knowledge required to make it a reality.
  2. Bolstered by Systems, Practices, and Processes
    Training that focuses on behaviors that are not aligned with cultural norms of the organization or supported by internal business systems and processes is doomed to failure. If, for instance, you are hoping to encourage more collaboration, but incentives and structures are designed for individuals or functional silos, there is little motivation for employees to change their current behavior.
  3. Supported by the Organization
    A training initiative that does not have the visible backing of leaders and their commitment to model and provide resources for the new behaviors will quickly lose momentum. If you do not have leadership on your side with a willingness to model, support, and measure the new ways, the training will likely be just a nice break from the routine and not address the root cause or deliver on its business objectives.

The Bottom Line
We know what must be true for corporate training effectiveness: a clear purpose, aligned internal systems, and a committed leadership. Check all three boxes before you invest in corporate training or you will be disappointed in the results.

To learn more about corporate training effectiveness, download The #1 Reason Training Initiatives Fail According to Executives

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