While most organizations understand that offering workplace learning is an important part of any organizational culture, most senior leaders don’t know what value training actually provides to an organization. Often times, we (the learning leaders) are our worst enemy when it comes to promoting and explaining the value of training to our organization.
A strong training department can deliver significant business results and also help drive a culture of learning. According to a report by IBM, organizations that have a strong training department and comprehensive training program for their employees can see better performance in:
- Revenue: Companies can experience $70,000 in annual savings and a 10% increase in productivity when teams are well trained.
- Employee Retention: 70% of (employees) stated that job-related training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay at their job.
- Employee Engagement: 87% percent of millennials believe learning and development (L&D) in the workplace is important.
- Skills Development: 76% of employees say that a company would be more appealing if it offered additional skills training to its staff.
- Upskilling: 74% of workers are willing to upskill or reskill to remain relevant in today’s business world.
Determining the Value of Your Training Department
Understanding the value training can have on the success of an organization is critical. However, being able to communicate that value to key stakeholders and show leadership both the qualitative and quantitative values are just as important.
However, before you jump straight to surveys (which are still very critical), the training department must have a clear understanding of how it contributes to the organization’s success. In particular, the training department must have a defined purpose and clear vision, appropriately skilled and talented learning leaders and a clear understanding of leadership expectations for that department.
At the fundamental core of training is a simple but profound concept: The role of a training department is to be a strategic business partner for leaders, managers and employees. Once the training team has a clear understanding of their role in the business, the learning leaders must talk about it (and live it) constantly. A best practice is to start or end every presentation or training with the team’s purpose and strategic initiatives. This allows the training representative to explain the role of training and what trainers can do for the organization in a clear and concise manner.
Mastering L&D Skills
In order for learning leaders to effectively achieve the company’s mission and vision, it’s imperative that the learning and development (L&D) team has the talent and knowledge to not only be good facilitators, but also to master effective communication, coaching and consulting skills.
The best way to show value to your business partners is to show them how dedicated you are to your craft and how important you are to their success. By mastering these skills, you can better serve your clients as you work to help them achieve their strategic goals.
The best way to open doors to better coaching and consultative conversations is to conduct a formal needs assessment process that allows learning leaders to ask deep and probing questions. This process can allow organizations to showcase their coaching and consultation skills and allow them to be seen as a true strategic partner. Take the time to develop the talent on your team so they can be effective coaches, consultants, trainers and facilitators. You will see tremendous success.
Understanding What Leadership Wants
The importance of establishing open lines of communication with management and the C-suite couldn’t be more important. It is critical for your training department to understand the strategic goals of the organization as well as how each department is expected to contribute to the company’s achievements.
With a clear understanding of what employees, managers and leaders need to do to achieve their strategic goals, the training department can begin to support the organization. Without a clear picture of what success is supposed to look like, you will have to guess how to manage support for your people.
Even if you create outstanding training programs and content, if it is not tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) — metrics for employee performance — the value of training will fail to be recognized. As a result, senior leaders may begin to question your role and its impact in the organization going forward.
While it may be difficult for some training departments to access senior leaders, you must strive to find a sponsor that believes in the department and what you are trying to do as a team. To some this may seem like “politics,” however it’s critical to your training department’s success and that of the organization.
Measure and Share What is Important
The last conversation you want to have with senior leaders is one that suggests the leadership team is not aware of what you are doing or how it aligns with the organization’s success. Ensure your training team has a way to measure success and share the results with leadership.
The training department must have a formal method monitoring and measuring how training aligns to the organization’s strategic initiatives. If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) platform use it. If you do not have one, find a way to create or buy one (there are also free versions out there).
By capturing all of what a training department does for the organization, you will be able to run reports and statistics that demonstrate your training value.
Another critical component of success is to implement a formal measurement process for your programs. For example, at GROWMARK, we use the Kirkpatrick’s Learning Evaluation Model to evaluate our formal training programs and courses. The data we’ve pulled using this model has been an important part of proving our training value.
In today’s business world of fast-paced changes, shortened bursts of training and the need to prove training’s value, training departments must be able to quickly and effectively show how training contributes to the organization’s goals.
Determine your mission and vision, train your learning leaders to be more than trainers and collect and share as much data as you can that ties back to the organization’s strategy and goals. If you do this, you will suddenly find yourself being involved more in key decision-making and strategy meetings.