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My Recipe To Save Companies Talent Development (Employee Training) Money

You want your training or talent development interventions to improve employees’ performance. But here’s the big question: How effective are your training interventions and strategies?

What does that mean? Allow me to elaborate.

Training does not equate to effective learning or skills developmentor better say, all talent development interventions are not created equal.

We both can admit that US companies spend a lot on training interventions. But are they getting their money’s worth?

For example, in 1997 Ford and Weissbein related that US companies spent over $100 billion on training initiatives (see page 13 of training Ain’t performance by Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps); but sadly only 10% of the expenses led to better employee performance.

Let’s be honest.  What happened to the other 90%?  

Oh, there is more. In 2015, companies in the US spent about $165 billion on training development and education for employees. But guess what? They did not have much ROI to show for the money. Yes, this is insane…

To illustrate, imagine getting only 10% (or to be more generous let’s say 30%) of the nutrients your body needs from your annual food budget. How healthy will you be? The answer is too obvious. Isn’t it?

You are probably wondering: what’s the main problem here?

Ineffective and unnecessary training or talent development interventions and products are as common as dirt. And they cost companies big money and bore employees to death.  

My biggest concern is that this trend makes qualified LDT professionals look badunnecessary.

What should we do, then?  Well, this is exactly what I am trying to get to in this post. I don’t claim to have all the solutions to the money-sucking training madness. But I will share 3 simple insights that can literally save your company time and money (if you use them, of course).

1- Avoid Investing In Rote Learning

The best way to improve job performance is to coach employees into better performance. Simple. Let’s this sink in for a moment.

For example, running information sessions is called meeting, not training. Showing PowerPoint slides, giving employee instruction steps, making them repeat information promotes  rote learning. Is that what your Talent Development or HR department wants?

We both know your employees will forget training content as soon as they leave the training room. But what can be done then? That leads us to my second point.

2- Invest More in Distributed Practice (Spaced Practice)

Distributed practices lead to better learning and performance. How?

Creating a learning structure or system that makes employees practice target content and skills regularly, with ongoing support and feedback, will facilitate and foster learning.

But how do you build a learning system to make distributed practice happen? I knew you were gonna ask. The answer is in my last point.   

3-Build a Solid Learning System

A learning system helps determine what to learn, how, and when. It also establishes how often employees practice, are evaluated, and get formative feedback. Bottom line, it saves time and money. But how?

In other words, a system facilitates learning by doing. That is to say, it allows employees to do the exact thing they are learning (or want to learn).   

On a personal note, a few years ago, I took on a challenge to train (F2F) about 700 employees with 3 months, on how to use a brand new management and payroll system.  

It was urgent and the pressure was high. As a matter of fact, two managers had quit or ran away from the job before I took the ID project over.

But guess what? I struggled and made lots of mistakes but we (my team and I) did it. Really? Yes, let me tell you how… in a few sentences.  

  • I built a simple but robust learning system and turned control over to the employees.
  • We used a checklist for every single task.
  • Employees summarized content they needed to learn.  
  • They performed the tasks they wanted to learn in the system, made mistakes, and got formative feedback.
  • Proficient users served as point persons to coach other colleagues in their department.

And the cost? No extra charge or expenses. Except for the cakes we cut at the end to celebrate the achievement.

In sum, training professionals and Instructional Designers have a responsibility to build system that makes learning happen. Doing so will protect the reputation of the LDT field.

But the ultimate question is: Will you do any “training” job as long as you get paid or will you make instructional decisions to help clients and employers avoid wasting their money and their employees’ time and energy.  

Well, the decision is totally up to you.  

Thanks in advance for commenting and sharing this post in your LDT network.

The coach
Coach Teddy Edouard develops Continuous Improvement(CI) processes and systems to help individuals and companies increase productivity, reach peak performance, maximize their impact, and save time, resources and energy.

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