4 Ways to Make Training and Development Pay Off

An employee training session

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Your organization is not alone if it seems money invested in employee training and development has little payoff. Rarely do workers take what they just learned and apply it immediately in the workplace.

Real employee behavioral change—based on the training content—is even harder to demonstrate in most organizations. But you can create a training and development support process to ensure your efforts work. Its application will result in measurable differences in your bottom line. Create stickiness before the training begins and the training will transfer.

Make sure training is the correct solution

Do a thorough needs and skills analysis to determine the real need for employee training and development. Make sure the opportunity you are pursuing or the problem you are solving is a training issue. If the employee is failing in some aspect of the job, determine whether you have provided the employee with the time and tools needed to perform the job.

Does the employee clearly understand what is expected of them on the job? Does the employee have the temperament and talent necessary for their current position? Consider if the job is a good skill, ability, and interest fit.

Create context for the training and development

Provide information for the employee about why the new skills, skill enhancement, or information is necessary. Make certain the employee understands the link between the training and their job.

You can enhance the impact of the training even further if the employee sees the link between the training and their ability to contribute to the accomplishment of the organization's business plan and goals.

It's also important to provide rewards and recognition as a result of successful completion and application of the training. (People like completion certificates, for instance. Some companies list employee names and completed training sessions in the company newsletter.)

This contextual information will help create an attitude of motivation as the employee attends the training. It will increase the likelihood the employee looks for relevant information to apply after the session.

Train what you want the employee to learn

You may need to design an employee training session internally if nothing from training providers exactly meets your needs. Or, seek out providers willing to customize their offerings to match your specific requirements.

It is ineffective to ask an employee to attend a training session on general communication when their immediate need is to learn how to provide feedback in a way that minimizes defensive behavior. The employee will regard the training session as mostly a waste of time or too basic; these complaints will invalidate potential learning.

Whenever possible, connect the employee training to the employee's job and work objectives. If you work in an organization that invests in a self-development component in the appraisal process, make sure the connection to the plan is clear.

Favor measurable objectives and specific outcomes

Design or obtain employee training that has clearly stated objectives with measurable outcomes. Ascertain that the content leads the employee to attain the skill or information promised in the objectives.

With this information in hand, the employee knows exactly what to expect from the training session and is less likely to be disappointed. They will also have ways to apply the training to the accomplishment of real workplace objectives.