Bright, Quick, & Flexible

Are You Wasting Money Training?
Dr. Greg Story

Training companies are probably the most savage critics of training when it is done poorly. There are cases where the training curriculum is flimsy, faddish or ephemeral. Trainers too can be disasters—unskilled, inflexible, or simply incompetent.

These few ruin the prospects for the many. Choosing the right company is one aspect of the process. Flakes should be easy to spot. Poor quality delivery is also equally apparent. The large-scale waste does not usually come in the selection process and delivery. It usually sits within the management processes of the company receiving the training.

The “box ticking” process of (1) training was requested, (2) trainers were selected, (3) training was delivered is far more rampant than it should be. The waste is not just the money spent for the training itself; it is also the collective cost of the time of everyone involved. Was (4), “the training opportunity was maximized” box, even there to be ticked?
Japan has some interesting challenges regarding how training is perceived and received. For many employees, being sent off to training is perceived to be a slight on one’s abilities, an assault on one’s professionalism, or an affront to one’s dignity. Now why would that be the case?

The formal training process is not the norm in Japan. The famous OJT—“on-the-job training”—is the standard for skill improvement. This works well when the role model is worth emulating. In many cases however, it becomes a permanent continuation of past mistakes, errors, archaic mentalities and outdated technologies.
The linkage between professional management and training is particularly weak in Japan. The usual pre-training brief goes like this:
“Suzuki, report for training in two weeks’ time. HR has the details.”
There is no post-training debrief.

The following alternate boss to subordinate pre-training “brief“ is a total rarity:
“Suzuki, you have been doing a great job. You are going to be a future leader in our company, and as your boss, I want to make sure you realize your full potential. To step up, we need to help get you to the next level. I have arranged for you to participate in two weeks’ time for a specially selected training program that will add to your current skill base.

“For your future success, there are three goals for you to work on with this training:

1) Work on further mastering concise, clear communication skills
2) Develop even more effective people skills, especially how to build “rich” internal networks
3) Develop the confidence required to step out of your comfort zone to be able to take on more initiative, even when there is a risk the initiative may fail. This is critical to enhancing the innovation process for the future of the company.

“After the training we will get together and review the progress you made during the training and the follow-up steps to make sure the training sticks and sets a new default position with your skill set. We will also explore what the focus should be for your next training. What questions do you have for me about the training?”
Trust me, a room full of dismal faces is not a trainer’s preferred start to the day. This is the reality we often face, however, and I always reflect on what a tremendous waste of resources, time and money this is for the client. We are professionals, so we know how to turn them around, but it is far from the ideal approach.

So, how is it down at your shop? Are your OJT “expert” managers sending the troops off to training with a spring in their step or with a big scowl on their faces because they think they are being punished? Simply calculate the amount of training completed over the last five years, including the cost of personnel being in training, and terrify yourself when you consider the next five years.
Stop wasting money training and get your managers organized and set up for success rather than failure with your training efforts.

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