What is Wrong with Training?

Boring classrooms that actually diminish employee engagement, Powerpoint presentations masquerading as e-learning, and an absence of any type of effectiveness analysis summarizes the comments made by a Fortune 100 training and development executive I meet last week.  She had worked with two major organizations as the head of their learning and development efforts and felt both had made little progress after investing millions of dollars and thousands of staff hours.  She challenged the audience consider: what prevents us from reaching our goals?

Most organizations recognize the importance of talent management, but few find the right combination of elements to optimize their talent on a comprehensive and consistent basis.  The typical organization may be good at part of the talent management process, but fail to connect all of the dots.  Some of the most common disconnects between intent and results pertain to a poor level of executive support for a talent strategy, lack of understanding of how people learn, inadequate talent planning, failure to assign the necessary resources to the right elements, and inadequate alignment of method with desired outcome.  Like many human processes, it comes down to being effective at recognition, analysis, planning, and execution.  Inherent in this process is managing the environment to the best of our ability, inside and outside of the organization. Some of the external factors that impact our probability of success include managing increasing global competition, changing technology, restructuring of the workplace to align with the current economy, and changing demographics.

So, what can an organization do to improve its chances of optimizing its talent?

  • assess current performance levels and potential capability
  • determine the employee needs to do their current jobs
  • determine employee future needs
  • create metrics and analyze analytics tied to business objectives to determine key linkages and best alternatives
  • develop a talent management plan
  • create a plan of action for each plan element
  • assess the effectiveness of the  methods utilized

By creating an effective talent management plan, an organization increases its chance of success by:

  • Creating a plan for how to meet current and future business needs;
  • Implementing a process to measure competence, capability, and outcomes;
  • Identifying specific methods to customize training and development to each employee’s needs based on relative value to the organization, current competence, future capability, and impact on outcomes;
  • Specifying ways to recruit and retain those with critical abilities and future capability;
  • Allowing less critical employees to be removed;
  • Accounting for key metrics and analytics on processes and results to drive future decision-making.

At that point, it can answer “what is wrong with training?”

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