Sending Employees To Workshops Is A Waste Of Money

Without Specific Objectives And Follow-Up, Training Dollars Go Down The Drain.

By Steve Schumacher

Most companies do not train their employees well. Period.

There are a lot of companies that are doing a lot of things right and making a lot of money doing it. In my experience those successes could be enhanced by making sure that employees have the right training to do their jobs successfully, whatever those jobs may be.

I have seen too many companies put employees into jobs without the proper training and watch to see if they sink or swim. I have heard all kinds of reasons for that practice, “they will figure it out,” “I never got any training,” or “they will learn from their mistakes.”

Here are some statistics that may surprise you:

  • In 2011 business in the U.S. spent $156 billion on training and development ($1,250 per employee).
  • Forgetting varies but, some people forget 50-80 percent after one day and 97-98 percent after a month.
  • Only 10 percent of the dollars spent on training results in behavior change in the workplace.
  • Successful managers reported that 70 percent of their learning came from doing the job, 20 percent from people, and only 10 percent from training and reading.

The question for you is: Are you getting a return on your investment in training, and if not, why not?

Over my career, I have evaluated, designed, developed and delivered training for all kinds of companies, for all levels of employees. Here are some things you can do to make sure that your training dollars are well spent and the employees actually put what they learned into action:

Make it just-in-time. Just-in-time training is training that the employee can do something with right away. It increases the probability that the employee will remember and focus during the training, along with implementing the learned skills on the job.

If it’s not something the employee can implement right way, they will forget what they learned and the dollars spent for the training are diminished or lost. Get training on-site.

Check with them when the training is over. As a manager, it is vital that you sit down with the employee right after their training and talk to them about what they learned. This will help reinforce the learning, as well as gives you the opportunity to set an expectation that the employee put the training into action.

Meeting with them right away also sends the message that training is important. Have the employee put a game plan together on how they will use the new skills. This plan will give you the opportunity to follow-up with them how it is working out for them.

Set up coaching. A 2013 study compared two groups. One had a four-hour training session. The other had the same four-hour training session and got a coaching follow-up call from the instructor two weeks late. The result was that the group that got the coaching not only performed better, they were able to handle stress better also.

No matter how good the training session is, how closely aligned it is with company objectives, no matter how much the employee learns, if you do not set up follow-up coaching, the training will not be effective.

Get them to work. The sooner you get the employee working on their new skills and implementing them, the greater the odds are they will truly understand what they have learned. Application of the skills is where the majority of the learning truly happens, not in the classroom.

The three stages of learning are: See one, do one, teach one. Look for opportunities for the employee to teach others the new skills, after they have mastered them.

If you want a culture in your company where training is valued and the company gains from it, pay attention to what happens after the employee returns from training. Coaching, follow-up, an action orientation and recognition for implementing the new behaviors will help you create a culture where training is not a cost, but rather an investment that gets a return for the company.