Staff training is an expensive investment. You know your employees need to be well trained to perform the responsibilities that make your organization a success. However, many executives question the value of training because it may not result in improved employee performance. Employees might attend training but do not demonstrate any skills development. Oftentimes, new concepts are not learned, or new behaviours cannot be sustained on an ongoing basis.
Why has staff training failed to achieve the results you want?
- You could be providing training for a problem that cannot be addressed by training. For example, when I was the staff development manager at a hospital, everyone assumed the way to reduce back injuries was to provide training in proper lifting techniques. While this was true, they overlooked the fact that back injuries occurred when one person tried a patient lift that really required two people. If the workplace is not structured so that two people are available for difficult lifts, no amount of training will prevent back injuries.
- You may not be clearly identifying the performance gap you want the training to address. It’s like shopping without a shopping list. If you don’t know what you want to achieve you won’t make the right choices. For example, it is unlikely that an off-the-shelf training program will meet the specific performance gaps of your employees. In order for training to be effective, it must address the specific skill deficiencies you want to improve upon. The best way to identify performance gaps is to use a competency analysis of the employee’s role. Using a comprehensive competency analysis as a basis, you can effectively target the priority performance gaps that can be addressed by training.
- The training design is not effective for meeting its intended objectives. For example, if your goal is to provide training so that an employee can perform a specific task to your quality standards, you need to make sure that the training provides the opportunity for the employee to reach the performance standard you want. I often see organizations who think employees will develop the skills they need simply by providing information lectures with power point slides. If you want behaviour change, you need to use learning methods that allow employees to practice their skills to reach the level of proficiency your standards require.
- New behaviours learned in training may not be supported on the job. Any behaviour change is difficult to make and sustain. If you want the desired performance to be carried on after training, you need to provide supports for this. For example, an excellent approach is to provide performance checklists that remind employees of proper procedures and also provide supervisors or managers with a practical coaching tool to support desired performance. A competency analysis of the employee’s job provides and excellent framework for creating a practical performance checklist.