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The Training Investment

Posted by admin on January 6, 2014

Funny post on LinkedIn a few weeks ago:

“What happens if we train our people and they leave?”

“What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?”

Yes, there is always the possibility that people will leave after you train them.  But it is usually not because they have received training.  It is really because they received training, converted that training into skills they could use on the job and generated results for the company by using those skills. 

Our experience is that people leave a company for a number of reasons, including:

  • They don’t like their immediate boss
  • The company doesn’t have opportunities for the employee to advance and take on new responsibilities
  • A competitor entices the employee with a better offer for the results they have generated

But if a company doesn’t train employees or provides just the most rudimentary training to do their jobs, it is telling employees that making an investment in their future with the company is not worth the expense.  Nothing will convince employees to put out feelers quicker than the sense that their employer doesn’t believe in their future and, by extension, the company’s future.

It is unfortunate that many companies see training as an expense, rather than an investment that generates a return.  In our projects, we take the approach that the client must generate multiples of the fees it pays us in savings or additional revenues.  And we try to demonstrate this ROI during our work on the project so the skills the client’s employees develop during our work with them continue to provide value long after the project ends.

So how do you make sure your training is an investment, not an expense?  Start at the end.  What do you want employees to do differently?  Once you answer that question you can back into what skills employees will need to perform differently and then look for ways that they can develop those skills.  Training is just one way of developing those skills, but often it is preferred because the trainer can make sure the skills are being used correctly, which increases management’s confidence that the money spent is an investment.

But developing the skills does not assure their use.  Unless employees are encouraged and rewarded for using the skills, it will be hit or miss.  And if there are elements of the performance environment that punish employees for using the newly developed skills, it is highly unlikely the skills will find their way into consistent day-to-day use.  Creating the proper performance environment helps assure a new “conduct of operating” for the company, getting the most from its investment in training.