According to a recent survey done by Universal Ideas Management Training corporation, one overarching issue that bothers HR and training managers the most is the linkage between training and the strategic/practical goals of organizations. A related issue, of course, is the recurring question of how to make training programs more effective. I want to briefly address the two issues in this article and a more elaborated article will follow later.
Regarding connecting training needs with the strategic goal of organizations, overall, I suggest that organizations don’t think of training companies as shops for specific products that apply to all problems under a given name, instead, they should think of training companies as solution providers, who can work within organizational contexts. I witness that organizations are now moving towards that direction through the following means:
To develop a competency model and identify expected competencies for each job position. Identify gaps between each job position and competencies of individual employees filling in the job. When training needs is identified in this way, training can be oriented by specific goals. The measurement of training effect can also be connected with required competencies—whether expected knowledge or behaviors have been successfully added/improved as a result of the training.
To connect organizational values and behavior expectations with training. When organizations are very clear and specific about what behaviors they expect from the employees, training can be used as a tool to promote organizational expectations. Similarly, training can be used a tool to promote organizational change including culture change.
To partnership with training companies in developing long term talent/leadership development program. Instead of using training companies on case by case basis, organizations can best take advantage of their professional knowledge and expertise through jointly exploring needs and developing organization-specific programs that are oriented towards long term goals.
A follow up question, then, is how to make training effective? I propose the following thoughts:
To give more attention to the characteristics of adult learning and make our participants the owner of their learning process. Adults can only learn when they are internally motivated through self awareness. Learning can be more effective when the participants feel active in the process.
To make the learning process driven by clearer goals, including both organizational goals and individual goals. When the goals are specific, visible, and recognize by the participants, training can be more result-oriented.
To focus more on behavior level training and action-centered learning. While general knowledge can be helpful, the real challenge lies in behavior change and connecting knowledge with real work.
Organizational effectiveness is achieved through personal effectiveness. When individual employees feel that they are truly respected in learning, coached in a way that can facilitate their personal development, and they can easily see performance improvement after training, they are more motivated to learn. Similarly, when individuals are performing at their best, organizational results can be maximized. Finally, organizational strategies and changes only take on real meaning when they are reflected in individual employees’ everyday behaviors, which then become trainable. The linkage between the two still takes some time to be explored and realized, but at least, we are moving towards that direction.