First off, the good news
There is a rising demand for training (with spending growing 12% between 2013 and 2014— the biggest upswing in a decade) and that positive demand is greatest in Asia, where 46% of companies surveyed plan to spend more, compared to 37% of North American-based companies and 34% of European. Additionally high-impact learning organizations with highly mature Learning and Development (L&D) functions spend 34% more than others, and are as a result seeing higher performance in return, to the extent where L&D is being seen as a profit rather than a cost center. While this is a very positive trend, there are still 3 key challenges before, during, and after training that need to be met.
- Before— A lack of business, management stakeholder, and participant alignment.
- During— Much training itself is fundamentally broken.
After training— Poor follow-up fails to bridge the knowing-doing gap.
1. Before Training
No proper business need alignment is attempted.
Too often there is a failure to align training with corporate objectives and real world competency gaps. In order for companies to achieve results, any program investment should involve input from business leaders to ensure that learning is driving retention, engagement, and performance.
How do we do this though? A survey by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) found that many organizations are lacking both in a systematic process to survey training needs (39.3%), but also have difficulty soliciting full support and championship from management (34.2%). This is troubling, because people tend not to change unless they know the what is in it for them: behavior change follows habit change, and habit change follows motivation. People won't change long-standing habit unless they discover the need themselves and see how training helps to bridge those competency gaps. Without business, stakeholder, and participant needs alignment before any session begins, training results in little value
We are your partner not only in delivery, but in preparation. What does that mean? Part of our job is to make the tasks of L&D departments easier— we're here to help as needed running training needs assessment, conducting key stakeholder interviews, and preparing materials for internal promotional purposes. To us, aligning participants’ individual needs with clear business priorities is crucial, and one of the factors most found to improve company revenue.
2. during TRAINING
Much training itself is fundamentally broken.
The researchers Brinkerhoff and Apking (2001) concluded: "Almost all organizational training is a marginal intervention and has only slight effects on performance improvement.” Too often training is like trying to drink from a firehose- simply too much information download and too little hands on reflection and practice, and on top of that focused on generalized, rather than adaptive localized content. People have individual learning styles, which are individually and culturally conditioned, and failure to adjust to that leads to a failure to really train.
In terms of delivery itself- trainers dominate, when they should facilitate: they should steer the conversation, but they should not control the discussion. The more discussion there is, the more likely attitudes and behaviors will improve.
With a Masters in the Science of Education, we are careful to have training follow best practices of adult action learning- with extensive simulation, feedback, reflection and review all within a framework of spaced repetition to avoid overload. We’re well versed in designing and using blended and eLearning (and have been a keynote speaker on the topic throughout Asia), but recognize that many persuasive skills are best improved in the dynamic space of a face to face training setting.
Additionally, our detailed pre-assessment work and decade training across industries and cultures in Asia allows us to realistically customize content to best meet learner needs and provoke true engagement. This attention to detail before training also allows us to integrate well with your existing programs assessment tools, CRMs, and learner management systems, creating a seamless education experience.
3. After TRAINING
Poor follow-up fails to bridge the knowing-doing gap.
Good training is a marathon, not a sprint, but training is often too complicated and demands changes too rapidly. If we try to change 20 things at once, we end up changing nothing. Likewise, if we leave what we learn in the training room after the session finishes, very little bridges the knowing-doing gap. No matter how enjoyable training itself is, what is the point if nothing changes on the job?
Follow up lacks organizational support, and feedback tied to opportunities to practice skills learned in session. If senior leaders don’t model the good practices we champion, then how can we expect their direct reports to? If KPIs aren't tied to changes we seek, why should we spend energy on them? If participants detect lack of support and direct involvement from top management, they see programs as passing fads of little importance. If they fail to get continued measurement, feedback, and opportunities to practice new behaviors, then what is learned is not continued.
We seek buy-in before training begins from senior leadership, to attain alignment with business objectives and the best practices of internal leaders. After training we follow up to identifying success cases (those who have embraced the change successfully); conducting interviews to learn exactly how success was achieved; and communicating results throughout the organization to encourage further buy-in.
For sustainability: we provide tools for measurement to participants and management, as well as work with you to integrate feedback with your existing systems. We are certified in corporate coaching, and work to train your managers to create a stronger coaching culture, as continued on the job coaching is the best way to ensure lasting change.
Why coaching? 94% of those with improved performance had manager support. Effective coaching multiplies training ROI. CSO Insights’ Sales Performance Optimization survey showed that with formal coaching, more than 90% of participants integrate training concepts into their daily practice — and these companies outdistance others in key metrics, including participants making quota and forecast deals won. In other words, training for manager coaches is just as important as training for participants.