To be most effective, training and development should be connected to the organizationâ€™s strategic goals.
Talent management has not been on the corporate radar long enough to be substantiated by decades of longitudinal studies or massive research.
Organizations use training to build skills and cause behavior change in individuals. But to be most effective, training and development should be connected to the organization’s strategic goals. A March 2007 Harvard Business Review article clarifies the sentiment: “Companies that fail to invest in employees jeopardize their own success and even survival.”
Unfortunately, even for companies that do invest, a lot of training is reactive, not proactive, and is developed and delivered in a vacuum without answering questions such as:
- Is training the appropriate solution?
- What competencies are important for success on the job?
- How will we ensure training is applicable to the audience?
- How will we design and deliver training to ensure it sticks?
To provide training that builds skills, increases knowledge and changes behavior, talent managers need to remember the characteristics that make training stick and integrate the components of assessment, awareness, skill building, application and implementation into the training strategy. Doing this creates a path to ensure training is interactive and provides participants with a better experience that will increase learner retention and behavior change.
Effective training begins with the end in mind. An effective program clearly answers what should be achieved. Answering this important question takes time, which most trainers and organizations today don’t have. But not making the time to assess current and future skills gaps is a liability to creating training with impact.
There are many ways to assess and collect data. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis can reveal a number of potential goals. The process also builds organizational awareness about the effect training can have on the bottom line. A training audit can provide a systematic assessment of the organization’s training programs and their effectiveness. When compared with the organization’s priorities and strategies, the identified gaps become goals for new programs.
Time needs to be allotted to analyze which behaviors support the goals identified. Data can be collected in a number of ways, such as Web-based and paper surveys/questionnaires, focus groups or interviews of exemplary employees. No matter what method is used, the data needs to describe the specific behaviors for success. It’s not enough to say that listening, communication, decision making, problem solving or leadership are needed. Those competencies describe many behaviors.