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Make Training Count: Make Sure Training Is Relevant

Continuing my series, Make Training Count: 10 Tips to Increase ROI, here is my sixth tip:

Make sure training is relevant to the Job, the Center, the Organization and the Organization.

Training isn't just "nice to have." It is essential to the organization, its customers and its employees.  I doubt you'll find many people who would dispute that if you ask them directly.  And yet, it is often one of the first activities to get "cut" when budgets and time are tight.  In the real world of limited resources, we know there will be times when various programs, processes etc. including training will "take a hit."  We know this will happen, the real questions are "How often?" and more importantly, "What can we do as trainers and managers to minimize this happening to our training programs?"

To assist you in answering the latter, I would like to suggest a few potential questions you can ask yourself (and/or your key stakeholders) as you design and deliver training solutions.  These questions have in my experience assisted in ensuring that the training is aligned with the larger organization, the customers, the employees' goals, values and expectations, thereby increasing the ROI potential.

Clearly the list is not exhaustive and perhaps not all questions apply to every stakeholder... however, I hope they trigger some reflection and provide a good place to start.

  • Where is the organization going and how will it know when it has gotten there?
  • In the ideal world, what would this organization look like?   
  • What kinds of indicators would tell you that you’ve realized your vision?
  • What are the organization’s major priorities for the next one to three years?
  • What would you like to see next year, 6 months, that you don’t see now?
  • What skills, knowledge and abilities do you believe leadership will need to be successful, today, tomorrow, in the future? What about our frontline employees?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • Which business units, divisions, functional areas are most critical to the success of this organization and its ability to achieve its objectives?
  • Are there any business units, divisions, functional areas or individuals you wish we could duplicate/replicate?  Why?
  • What metrics do we have to assess our current processes, and how do we use them to improve processes?
  • What are potential external events, regulations, etc., that might impact our organization, now and in the future?

Then as you develop the training solution, ask yourslef the following:

  • How will this program address some of the responses to the above questions?
  • How will the training improve performance of the individuals who attend and ultimately the organization and its customers? In other words, what are the business results of the program?
  • How will the change/improvement be measured and reported?
  • What are those results worth? 

Bottom line:  Training is part of the organization's learning strategy and in order to be seen as "must have" vs. a "nice to have" needs to deliver results that are aligned with the larger organization mission, vision and strategy.