Making the Most of your Investment in Corporate Training
American companies have consistently spent at least $160 billion on corporate training annually since 2012, yet studies show only 10 percent of the learning experience translates to effectiveness at work. A recent Forbes article focused on the fact that the investment in corporate training does not always yield the ROI that companies expect, nor do companies show significant improvements in organizational performance and productivity. Ouch!
So What’s Going on Here?
Insanity is going on here. Einstein told us long ago that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So, it’s probably a good time for senior managers to listen to Harvard Business School Professor Michael Beer, who studied this phenomenon with his colleagues at True Point Partners, Magnus Finnstrom, and Derek Schrader. In a paper cleverly titled, “The Great Training Robbery” the team found that most corporate training programs mainly work to develop and change the behavior of individuals and teams.
Overall, the focus of corporate training is too narrow, according to the study, hence the lack of effectiveness. A broader approach is needed, and upper management must be prepared for the changes the training program was designed to produce. If leaders are unprepared or reluctant to change, the impact of the training is significantly diminished. All leaders must get on board and stay on board.
Preparing for Change
The most efficient training programs begin with proper planning. Senior management must all be on board and apprised of the changes coming about. Open communication is essential, and any barriers to it should be broken. They must all agree beforehand to accept the changes they expect as they invest in training their staff.
“Senior managers can be great motivators,” says David Lengyel, managing director of Venture Up, an experiential training firm devoted to building team relationships. “When they actively support the training program they show their staff they are part of the big picture. All staff in the training program should also be aware that senior leaders are informed of their training and look forward to the new changes ahead,” he says.
“Nothing says this better than a group meeting of senior managers and the staff to be trained. Corporate leaders have the power to psych staff up for the new program and motivate them to succeed before the experience even begins.”
Not everybody looks forward to corporate training. Topics can often be dry and boring, which is why so many organizations seek out creative resources to add some spice to the essential ingredients. Venture Up is often hired to inject creativity into the concepts of training programs to drive home the company’s objectives. Known for its ever-evolving innovations, Venture Up is often an integral part of meetings and events where “learning” (a term they don’t use much) must be fun and applicable to the workplace.
“The experiential component is what hooks their staff,” says Lengyel. “When we get creative, we get personal.” The Venture Up team works with staff to personalize essential parts of the program. For example, they invent new terminology, such as naming methods or products after a popular manager or crew member, orpersonalize the system or program elements in a mnemonic way to transfer to work. “Making the training fun is a motivational force for workplace application,” Lengyel says.
Getting Bang for your Buck
The top brass sets the tone for the corporate culture. The power to change comes from the top down, not vice versa. It costs nothing for corporate leaders to use a few words to create a lasting impact. Leaders who welcome change and establish trust with their employees to implement that change not only have an edge on the competition, but motivate their staff to succeed because they know their work is meaningful, and taken seriously by the top brass.