Training Days Should Boost Your Bottom Line

Professional Development Manager

Businesses have learned in the last two decades that they cannot afford not to train with more frequency and effectiveness. Studies have shown again and again that specific, targeted training has a great effect on the bottom-line.

Strategic organizations recognize that spending on training is an investment and, increasingly, they look for a return on the investment.

Training is often required for the performance of a new task or responsibility or to improve performance on an existing task or responsibility. Soft-skills training is usually more conceptual and involves the improvement of how people work together for greater productivity.

Sometimes training is used inappropriately as a perk, a reward or a break. Even in cases in which employers and course participants are seeking real learning, sometimes only token learning takes place.

Workplace Behaviours

  • Cognitive learning, which is knowledge
  • Affective learning, which is attitude
  • Psychomotor learning, which refers to physical skills
Workplace Soft Skills
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Negotiating
  • Conflict resolution
  • Public speaking
  • Problem-solving, etc.

According to learning theory, learning is defined as “a change in workplace behaviours.” Given this definition of learning, we can understand the difference between real learning and the illusion of learning.

A person can watch a video or listen to a speaker without taking away any new or enhanced skills.

Workshops that include time for group work and demonstrations of soft skills give participants an opportunity both to demonstrate and to practice new skills. Specific tools – problemsolving models or tip sheets on handling difficult people, for example – increase the likelihood of changes in work behaviours. Often, there is no clear measurement of the learning that has been achieved.

Apart from the use of pre- and post-tests, changes in behaviour are usually best measured after the person has returned to the workplace. Sending employees for training is essentially a business decision and should be treated as such.

The best way to achieve real learning – and the resulting return on investment – is to have a discussion with stakeholders prior to training and after training. Involving the participant, the manager and the trainer in establishing specific expectations is essential. Both the purpose of the training and the strategy for its use afterwards need to be clarified.

In the best definition of trainers or facilitators, their role is to facilitate change in workplace behaviours on behalf of the sponsoring company. Very few facilitators, however, provide support following training to ensure that expectations have been met.

There are different levels of follow-up. At the lowest level, the trainee is expected to demonstrate the new or enhanced skills.

A secondary, more difficult level might involve a demonstration that the changes in behaviour have improved the company’s bottom-line. Other levels of follow-up might measure whether the trainee has been able to influence others in the company, as a result of the training.

Supervisors and business owners need to take a more active role in the development of their staff. They need to select individuals and courses that meet the development needs of their company. Initially, follow-up may be weekly to ensure the change in behaviours. Once the skills have been demonstrated, the follow-up may change to a monthly basis.

At APEGGA’s Professional Development Day in November, a day-long session on strategic planning will cover some of the follow-up needed on workplace behavioural changes. Take steps to ensure that you and your staff obtain maximum benefit from training – training that has a positive effect on your bottom line.

One total quality management maxim states: “What is not measured is not improved.” It’s worth taking to heart.

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