You might think when training professionals representing legal, construction, service, actuarial and technical training get together to discuss business case challenges, we would find differing needs.
Not at all!
The topic at hand – ‘Building a Business Case for Training,’ was both thought provoking and serious for a group of people faced with using training as a strategic advantage. There was a passionate and creative discussion for an hour and four interconnected bottom line insights emerging from the group.
Insight #1 – The organization’s leadership and support structure (e.g. annual reviews and performance management systems) must be actively engaged and participating or it is difficult for employees to understand ‘why’ this is important. A clear case for effective leadership and alignment of training with the public message of the company.
Insight #2 – Stop training everybody. There are people who are interested in growth and advancement – support them with the appropriate training curriculum, job growth challenges, pay and recognition for delivering greater value to the organization (use the structure from #1 above).
Then there are folks who like what they do, are interested in improvement but not advancement. They need a different path to success. Help them do their job better and don’t ask them to lead (it’s a waste of time, money and energy).
And then there are folks (yes trainers, I know this is hard to believe) who just want to show up, work and go home. We cannot change them. Focus on the people who will add value.
Insight #3 – Stop calling Soft Skills training ‘Soft Skills.’ It’s just too squishy for many professionals. Ideas emerged about names to engage, such as changing ‘Active Listening’ to ‘Strategic Communications’.
Insight #4 – Stop calling it ‘Training.’ Get creative and collaborative in various ways that get people engaged in active learning. The word Training itself has baggage. Leave that by the curb.
And finally, we had thoughts on delivering cost effective learning in addition to the traditional methods:
- Small discussion groups (with a facilitator to keep things positive and focused) work well when a mix of leaders and learners are together (for learning), or a discussion with smart people sharing experience can be very useful to build on and share best practices.
- Use virtual meetings (keep them short, 1 hour max); web conferences do work, and we trainers need to do some handholding for a while. We have to make this method easy to use.
- Get people into social networking to learn and share ideas.
Next meeting’s topic is: What’s in a name – Marketing the “T” word (“training”)
So here is a leadership tip – are you collaborating with leaders outside your industry for new ideas? You should.