I’ve never met a a corporate executive who wanted to spend money on training! And, in a perfect world, none of them ever would!

In general, companies do not invest in training because they want to — they invest in training because they have to.

Yes, all too often, money is spent on training only as a reactive event. Something breaks too often; something doesn’t work the way it should; too many “somethings” have to be scrapped at some point in the production process; something takes too long to make; or, the same something has to be fixed over and over again.

Only after any of these events occur, do the corporate executives come to the realization that they have to invest in training. Their typical reaction brings about the awareness that they’d better make a training investment in order to save money by minimizing one of those problems.

Those of us who have spent many years in the training field can readily understand that, historically, an organization has focused certain time and money on training when either some process or function within the organization has gone awry or an edict-to-train has come down from high up in the organizational structure.

Only after the corporate decision to train is made, can the trainer focus on the “who-to-be-trained” and the “what-to-use” components. And, far too often today, the “who” is overlooked because of the rush to adapt the learner to the new networking technologies (the “what-to-use”).

Too bad. For isn’t having well trained workers going to ultimately be more valuable to those individuals – and, give more of an ROI to the organization in the long-term? Why have so many of us forgotten the fundamentals of effective learning? How can we assume that learning takes place just because instruction and learning materials are made available?

We must never forget that in order to effectively train a group of people, an instructor must have some awareness of the “learning styles” with which she is working.

A trainer has to first solve the problem of differing learning styles within his organization. For example, some jobs require good reading ability. If the instructor knows this skill to be required, then the networking technologies that place lots of words and graphics on the computer screen — reading-based CBT (Computer-Based Training) is an acceptable choice – as would also hold true for books and manuals.

But, what about the vast number of jobs that do not require reading in order for the individual to succeed? Are you going to throw the same books and networking CBT technologies at those individuals? If you do, you will be wasting the resources of your organization – for little learning will be the result – and, consequently, skills improvement will be minimal.

As we’ve noted many times, most people are visual 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 interactive CD-ROM (with full-motion video and full-audio), and well designed, video-based E-Learning with optional word-for-word audio are all more effective media for the large majority of people seeking to acquire, or improve, skills.

In fact, studies continue to reveal that using “seeing-hearing-doing” media instruction (in a full-motion and audio 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.

Organizations may not want to spend money on training — but, they quickly learn that with the right choices, the payback on their training investments can be enormous!

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)