On Job Training and Business Results: The Utterly Inseparable Union

Summary

All training must have a clearly defined positive effect on your business. “Training for training’s sake” is a waste of time and money. And performance improvement doesn’t necessarily include training.

Purpose of Training

The purpose of training is to help people do their jobs more effectively so that they contribute to effective business results. That can’t be denied or ignored.

Why Train?

You can introduce or continue training for many reasons. Because the boss says so, to improves morale, to develop employee’s own knowledge and skill or as a genuine and valid response to an organizational need.

Training Side Effects

Most people who develop effective skills and knowledge through training, develop higher levels of self esteem. Generally speaking, they are more co-operative, easier to work with, show more initiative, and care a lot more about what they’re doing than untrained people. But these benefits are side effects.

The Ego Massage

Training specifically to improve personal self esteem is a very dubious endeavour if it’s not going to have a clear relationship to improved business results. Much of what passes for training these days is little more than ego massage. Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t deceive yourself that it will contribute to business results.

Knowing and Doing

You do not have to know why in order to know how. Not only that, but just because you know how doesn’t mean you can do.

Example 1

If you want proof of that statement, take a piece of paper right now and write down exactly how a reciprocating engine works. On another piece of paper write down how competent you think you are as a driver of a conventional motor vehicle in conventional traffic on a scale of 1-10.

In case you didn’t know, the reciprocating engine is the power source for your motor car. You don’t have to know how it works in order to drive the vehicle effectively. And even if you know how it works and how it should be driven, that knowledge doesn’t make you a “good driver”.

Example 2

Most people who use a laptop of a tablet have no idea of how it really works. They certainly can’t fix it if it breaks down. I’m not denying that some of you may be very good mechanics and tinkerers. But you don’t have to know anything about how things work in order to be able to make them work.

Implications

Training that concentrates on theory, rationale, and on all those things that somebody feels it’s “nice to know”, costs a fortune and in many cases is next to useless. You simply don’t need to employ a truckload of boffins to gain maximum benefit from the latest technology.

Training and Business Results

Let me repeat, the purpose of training is to improve the on job performance of the employees being trained; nothing more nothing less. That improved on job performance should lead very clearly to improved business results.

If training doesn’t lead to improvement in on job performance then there has to be an extraordinarily good reason for your business to fund it.

Exceptions

I’m not saying there aren’t cases where this is so. But they are relatively few in number and certainly shouldn’t constitute more than 5% to 10% of the overall training effort in your organization.

Business results are really the only valid justification for undertaking training. Your training should demonstrably and measurably improve business results.

Let me explain “demonstrably” and “measurably”.

Demonstrably

By “demonstrate” I mean that people have to be able to show that they are able to do something at the end of the training that they couldn’t do before the training. If the trainee fails, the training’s failed.

And Measurably

“Measurably” means what it says too. It’s not enough just to be able to show that the trainee is “better listener” or “better delegator” or ‘better letter writer”. The “betterness” must be able to be measured.

You want to sure that after training, trainees can write letters so that 50% more of the recipients understand them better than they did before the training.

If you are conducting training where the results cannot be measured and demonstrated then you ought to take a very serious look at your training. It might be costing you a small fortune for little or no effective business return.

Training is part of the resource that business has available to it to improve business performance. It should be evaluated and costed in the same way as other activities.

Cost Effectiveness

If training can’t be shown to be cost effective then it either has to be made cost effective or it shouldn’t be done. Training should be subject to the same sort of financial scrutiny as any other activity in your organization.

Training and Performance Improvement

Many, many improvements in performance, probably as many as 90% of them, can be achieved without training. Training’s often undertaken because staff aren’t performing well. Of itself, training is not a valid response to poor employee performance. This is one of the major areas when money is wasted. And it’s a clear example of training not being related to improved business results.

Conclusion

Before you start training ask yourself: “how will I know for certain that this training will help the trainee contribute more effectively to business results?” If you can’t answer that question in demonstrable and measurable terms… well… you know the answer.