An organisation’s greatest asset is its skilled human capital. Constant change in technology is making training an integral part of any business. But despite the huge jumps in corporate training, there are gaps in implementation. Tracking the training process, getting optimum feedback, and understanding whether the process has been successful in delivering real-time results is critical.
Effectiveness is gauged on two parameters: one, the degree to which the programme achieved the stated objective and second, the ratio of the cost of the training to the return. There are also different types of training. While product, sales or technical training teach specific skills, workshops on leadership, team effectiveness, attitudes, ethics, integrity and diversity are focused on the intangibles. It is tough to gauge the benefits of the latter as results vary from individual to individual.
In such a backdrop, what can companies and trainers do to ensure effective corporate training?
There is a gradual shift from the general to the specific courses. Certain basic processes such as understanding business drivers for training, knowing delivery and content, assigning subject experts, pre-training assessments, preparing trainees, delivering business-specific customised courses, post-training assessments and follow-up assistance are integral parts of the new requirements of corporate training. There is also the need to increase the value and return on training investment by designing courses which are clearly aligned with corporate strategy. Precise and powerful training framework should be directed to achieve key business goals. Smart companies are also realising that one-time induction training or annual process training programmes are inadequate.
Offering different types of training modules at different stages in an employee’s career programmes can be best tracked if they are customised to suit the needs of individuals based on the specific problem at hand. Sometimes, the results are apparent if it is a one-time module designed to address a specific dilemma.
The key to effective training function is active participation by all stakeholders, including learning managers, HR managers and learners’ managers. Senior leaders should be actively engaged at every stage, right from need identification, and conceptualising the training programmes to conducting sessions. HR managers or the team that assesses training needs in an organisation and designs and manages such programmes must remember that while the main ingredients of a training module may remain constant, the methodology used needs to evolve continuously.
Keeping a constant track
What also sets successful companies apart is their ability to keep a tab on changing aspirations of their people and their ability to adapt their training modules to emerging needs. Good old established companies like Punjab National Bank have also realized the essence of improving customer service through extensive training programmes to bring service at par with private sector global banks and also to upgrade skills of employees. Around 30,000 employees including bank managers and employees at various levels and locations recently underwent customer sensitization programme.
Another important aspect is to track the impact of a particular training procedure. Managers should ensure that the learning is well directed and yields effective results. They must also quantify abstract data such as how are employees responding to the programme and how is it translating into everyday work. Hard data can be used to review if the training is working or requires improvement.
Thanks to the focus on building a sustained learning environment, employee training in India is big business and has grown into approximately Rs 5,000 crore business, with potential to grow further. But unless companies take steps to ensure effectiveness of training, they would be throwing away good money.