Training is up . . . is ROI?

I remember every detail of the conversation.  The executive was talking to me about an investment in his people as the economy just started to recover in 2010.  He said he had put $2500 in the budget for training for each of his people.  When I asked him what kind of training he was thinking he said “He did not care, it was up to them.”  I asked him what kind of conversations they had around the development of their people, and if some sort of written development plan was part of it.  He said No.  Was this a wise investment?

Spending on training went up 50% in 2013, which is a great thing.  Investing in your people is always a good thing because, at the very least, it shows them you care.  As you spend more just remember two things:

  • 90% of learning happens outside the classroom
  • 70% of people go to training without a reason for being there

(see trU Tips #3 – Improving Your Training ROI)

In my opinion, the ROI of your training spend is dependent on these two numbers.  For the first one, when I do not see a written development plan my experience tells me that most of your people are getting training randomly and waiting for training $ to appear.    Secondly, without a written development plan and one-on-one follow-up with their leader, people see training  as something they show-up to, but very little gets transferred back to the job.  The data supports this, and in the era of flatter organizations, I would be surprised if the transfer of learning to work improved.

Quick tips . . .

First tip:  When someone on your team goes to training take a 3×5 card and have them write one learning objective on one side and you write one on the other – then after the training set a date to review these goals within a week of them returning to work.

Second tip:  Have someone do a single page summary around what they learned, how the team might benefit from what they learned, and one thing they will be doing to apply what they learned – then share it at your next team meeting.

I did several employee surveys in 2013, and in each of them the lack of training and development was highlighted by people.   It is good to see the money being spent, and if you want a higher return for your investment just the two tips above will make a big difference.  Each will also lead to a great conversation.

I still believe that Honest Conversations, leading to Thoughtful Actions, and ultimately Improved Performance is at the core of culture and talent management.  Commit to it, and the returns will surely follow.