Training and development focus on the importance and benefits of employee development however there are areas where we don’t see direct impact, like – competitive workforce, employee retention, employee engagement etc. Training and development are no doubt useful but there are at times when it fails, specially when it applied to problems that it can’t solve really.
Many leaders view training and development as a magic bullet to various learning and filling behavioral gaps opportunities. For example, turning to training and development department to devise a training program which shall teach employees to be less bureaucratic and more enterprising. The goal was to enable employees to stop waiting for approvals and instead feel entitle them to make their own decisions. This is a whole new behavior and introducing this through a training program may not be the apt way.
Importance of Training and Development
Training and Development is mighty when there is a solid root cause of learning need is an under-developed skill or lack of knowledge. For situations like these, a tailored program which comes with customized content, business cases, activities and a post training measurement will do wonders. According to various studies, the following were the emerging need for training and development for many leaders:
- Ineffective decision-making process
- Concentrated authority at the top
- Unmeasurable expectations
- Technological problem of spread information to the relevant employees
With these issues, it is highly unlikely that a training program would help, worst case scenario – it can backfire the goals and expectations for training and development.
Learning is a function of thinking, not teaching. It happens when an individual chooses to reflect on and develop a new behavior. But if the environment doesn’t support that new behaviors, a training program won’t make a difference.
Following are three conditions needed to make sure that a training solution achieves the goals:
- Work environment that supports new behavior: Spotting unwanted behavior is a sign for change. However this behavior may not be coming due to lack of a skill, there can be many reasons like – clear and open communication on what is good and what is bad by managers or what is the culture of the organization and how well is it reinforced or levels of hierarchy prevalent in the organization etc. All these reasons/factors play a significant role in shaping the behavior. To resolve this issue, a more logical method would be to look at the processes and see if the top is ready to make improvements to those processes. Surely, a training program would be useless.
- Commitment to change: Psychometric assessments are a better tool in not only detecting the skill gaps but also situations where reinforcement of learning is required to sustain that learning. Just because an organization realises the reasons of unwanted behavior doesn’t mean they are ready to change and if their response is “let’s do this workshop first and then look at the other factors”, you know it is not going to happen. If the organization is not ready to address the root cause of the problem, a well-designed, customized training program won’t work.
- Training aligned to organization’s strategy: Training and development plays a vital role in upskilling the employees in situation like entering new market or launching new product, as it will focus on the skills, knowledge and attitude required for the new product or market. However, if a training need is not aligned to the strategic perspective of the organization, please don’t expect the training to impact the bottom-line of the organization.
If you are planning to invest your time, effort and money into training and development projects, please align them to the strategy of the organization and be confident that your organization has huge plans in reinforcing and sustaining the learning.