As trainers, you should always keep your eye on “The Big Three.”

Your first task is to recognize that too many investments in training are made which are unrelated to company objectives. Therefore, it should come as no surprise, that management, too often, regards training costs as superfluous and unnecessary.

So, how can you assure that your training efforts will help your company achieve that competitive advantage?

In order to successfully connect training initiatives to corporate objectives, you should:
a) study the company’s business plan.
b) meet with some of the individuals who created the business objectives.
c) build a sound business case for how your proposed training initiative will positively contribute to company results.

Secondly, it is important to remember that, often, individuals charged with spending organizational money on training needlessly squander corporate resources. One-size-fits-all is a wasteful way to go today.

No longer does a company have to assign every electrical maintenance worker nor instrument tech to the very same curriculum. The means exist today to administer a valid skills assessment in order to determine exactly just what skills a specific worker already possesses — and, which ones he/she does not.

Since the most expensive cost in training is personnel costs, significant corporate dollars can be saved.

By far the smartest thing to do before making investments in training is to administer a Skills Assessment Test. The results of that test will clearly demonstrate the various knowledge gaps in your workforce.

And then, of course, the individual worker can invest only that time necessary to fill in those knowledge gaps, without having to perform a seat-warming activity in those classes he/she does not need.

Thirdly, I would suggest that in order to effectively educate/train a group of people, an instructor must have some awareness of the “learning cultures” with which he/she is working today. Two important facts must be kept in mind: 1) Approximately 40% of America’s workforce cannot assimilate information written above a 4th Grade Level: and, 2) Only about one-third of our current high school seniors are able to form opinions from what they read.

Most people are multi-sensory learners when it comes to skills acquisition. ‘Seeing’, ‘hearing’, and ‘doing’ -– in combination -– is still the best way. Stand-up instruction (with hands-on exercises); distance learning (with good facilitation), videotapes (with hands-on practice), self-paced E-Learning and CD-ROM instruction (grounded in full-motion video and optional word-for-word audio) are all more effective media for the large majority seeking to acquire, or improve, skills

In fact, studies continue to reveal that using “seeing-hearing-doing” learning-media (in a multi-sensory environment) will increase the majority of learners’ understanding by more than 50%, resulting in a 25-50% greater learning retention, and with a 50-60% greater consistency in content understanding -– the ultimate aim of all learning.

So, where do you turn for help?

Find a vendor salesperson who puts “closing the deal” secondary to listening and supporting you with your training challenges. Such a salesperson will not recite a litany of memorized “features/benefits” — a sure sign that you’re dealing with the wrong salesperson (someone who has limited knowledge and no interest in your needs). A true sales professional will concentrate on those benefits of his/her products/services that address your specific needs — a reliable sign that you may have stumbled on a good one.

A genuine sales professional will walk away before selling you something that will ultimately fail to meet the learning needs of your people. The professional salesperson wants to be your partner. And, when you find that salesperson, do your part to build a continuing relationship. It will pay you dividends for years to come.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning