Let me start by illustrating the two occasions when training is not a waste of money; that is, you don’t just learn some new things but you actually change as a result.
When you have no choice.
In the 80’s I was a programmer working at a large UK council. I was trained in a database language called IMS (I know you don’t really care but I’m a stickler for factual accuracy) when they decided that the project I was working on would use a different language instead called DB2 (there I go again).
We were all given new development plans and sent on a training course to learn the new language and when we came back were expected to be able to write programs using DB2. I have to tell this was a great incentive to learn and sure enough I came back from the course and began to use my new skills immediately. The training had worked!
So what can we learn from this?
- Change happens when the new skills you are learning become an integral part of your working life and you cannot function without them.
When you REALLY want to change
I had somebody attend one of my 1-day personal effectiveness and efficiency courses a few years back who had paid to come on it themselves. He worked for a medium-sized property company and had reached the stage where he was “going to have a nervous breakdown” if he didn’t do something about the hours he worked and the stress he was under.
This was most unusual because everybody I had seen before had been sent, and paid for, by their employer presumably because they felt they needed to improve. He had chosen to come because he really wanted to change his circumstances. I have to say that he was by far and away the most motivated and involved participant on that day; perhaps ever and he was determined to get every ounce of value from it.
This story has a very nice ending in that he wrote me an email only very recently to say that he had transformed his life after the day by saying “no” more often, delegating properly and only doing the things that really mattered (pretty much the course in a nutshell there folks saving you the expense of having to attend – I’m just a giver I guess).
In truth it wasn’t me who changed his life; he did it himself by his determination to improve his circumstances.
Another lesson then.
- Change is much more likely if somebody passionately wants to move on.
So why is this important?
Well industry spends billions of pounds on training every year and according to a study run by Xerox only 10% of it actually results in a change in the workplace. Even if you doubt the figures think about the last course you went on and now be honest and say how much of what you learned is actually part of your everyday lives today.
So if you want to make your training budget have more effect you should make sure that you either create an environment where people cannot function without using what they have learned (what we do in Flair) or only select people who are desperate to change. Preferably both!
I am a big fan of personal development but I cannot stand waste; if you’re with me why not review your training strategy along these lines and see where it takes you?