Five challenges in delivering an effective corporate training
During the last three decades, the Training and Development (T&D for short) field of expertise became a 30-billion-dollar industry, engaging almost 15 million employees and managers, who in turn participate in about 17,6 million courses per year. The training program is a very important part of the overall organizational performance of a company, because it increases both the effectiveness and efficiency of its employees.
Despite the development of instructional video software, non-formal teaching methods and hardware technology, the trainer-led coaching session is still the most popular method of education, due to the fact that face-to-face tutelage adds value to each and every single knowledge and learning experience.
Even more so, the participants benefit from the other participants’ experience and interactions and will have the chance to learn from real life examples and experiences. The aim of a training program is to add significance to the employees’ everyday work and streamline their personal and professional improvement. In order for a training program to be completed successfully, both the trainer and the organization need to overcome some important hurdles.
1. One of the most challenging situations for companies is finding the right person to deliver the training. The test comes when they have to choose between a subject matter expert and a professional training delivery service, as they are not necessarily one and the same.
The advantages for choosing a subject matter expert in delivering (or even designing) the session is that he/she has strong knowledge in the chosen field, he/she may answer all the participants’ questions and hypothetical situations, but he/she may not have the qualifications and qualities of an actual trainer. A subject matter expert may not have instructional design expertise, instructional delivery skills, good communication skills or even a good learning strategy plan. Their preparation to deliver and conduct the general learning experience may prove stressful or result in a lesser experience than can be delivered by a training expert.
More interesting is the fact that an increasingly high number of employees find themselves nowadays in a position to prepare and deliver the training program, without having formal qualifications. They are simply well-versed in that particular field of expertise, due to the experience garnered over the years. In addition, a training specialist or an experienced instructional design professional, specialized in learning & development, may not be the best person in the field to deliver the training program, since he/she may not be well-informed, well-prepared or simply have a lack of research on the subject. The challenge for the company in this situation is to find the right person who can deliver the training sessions: an expert in his or her respective field, with good communication skills, solid knowledge of the purpose of the study and mastery of the various learning strategies and techniques.
2. Another important challenge that a training program needs to overcome in order to attain effectiveness is needs analysis. Many organizations don’t invest any time for training needs analysis, this means analyzing the needs behind a training session, who needs it and what kind of training programs have to be followed. Herein lies the misguided perception within organizations:
- if something is not working well or an employee didn’t reach his/her targets, management sends the employee to a training program;
- after the training, they expect a new, skilled and completely different person.
Following this erroneous perception, many of them ask themselves at the end of the training program or workshop: “why did I go to this training? It didn’t help”. The issue is more complex than this. In order to design a proper training program, the trainer or the management need to review the existing professional literature & writings, reports, strategies and find out the roots of the issue.
The needs analysis is actually a cross-functional activity, a coordinated action between the project and its alignment to a company’s strategy. Even more so, all the departments need to be involved in order to obtain a realistic assessment of what that training session needs to contain. The alignment, planning, coordination and execution of the functional project in a program are carried out with a high level of precision.
Unsuccessful results of the needs analysis can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of portfolio, flawed management techniques or a lack of resources invested in measuring the project’s benefits. So the challenge, mainly for the company, is to gather pertinent and accurate data from all their departments and both internal and external bibliographical resources, so as to identify the correct path of a training program, along with clear objectives, which is another important task when choosing a specific instruction session.
3. The third challenge is the design of the coaching method, which is one of the most important element of an effective training program. When designing it, the company has to call on a learning and development specialist or an individual specialized in learning strategy. After setting up the correct needs, objectives and expectations, the training program needs to be adapted accordingly. The challenge arises when the instructional designer has to adapt the training plan to the expectations and objectives set in place. The workshop shouldn’t be just an interactive game, but the main objective has to be practicality, so that members of staff can easily apply that information in their day to day work. The focus must be on what the participant will garner after the training program ends.
Salas Eduardo, professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Central Florida, says that most employees tend to lose about 90% of the knowledge acquired during the coaching program, due to the fact that there is an informational overflow and the plan itself is packed with too much data to handle. The challenge is to design the agenda in such a manner that staff members retain as much as possible, whilst teaching them how and when to assess facts and track down the main source of information.
4. The forth challenge is the lack of commitment from employees engaged in the training session. The challenge and the solution is for top management to implement a positive mindset, based on the importance of education and continuous improvement; they have to set the conviction that the training is going to be beneficial. If management sees training as a burden which needs to be done just for the sake of it, their employees will never have the right mindset towards development through education. Executives, manager, leaders of all kinds must approach this process with commitment and support. A glaring lack of interest and involvement is not favorable in achieving any of the training’s goals.
5. Finally, the fifth challenge is to evaluate the training program, observe the results and check if the objectives were met. The challenge comes when implementing the proper methods of evaluating the training session. Organizations typically don’t evaluate and improve what their employees have already learned; if they do, they focus on expectations and reactions of staff on that particular coaching scheme, expecting an automatic positive impact of the aforementioned. Most companies believe people will simply acquire the information mechanically, but they don’t take into consideration people’s response towards learning or reports and other important long-term data-gathering efforts.
Consequentially, the correct implementation of a training program into an organization’s structure will make it so that success shall be reaped and goals and objectives achieved. Effective training programs strengthen companies, adding further value, skill and knowledge to their staff members. As such, never forget – a highly skilled employee is a high-performing individual, who will definitely be a source of increased success for your business.