By Jim Hopkins, president/CEO, JK Hopkins Consulting
Have you ever noticed a particular training project showing up each year as the top priority, and it looks like last year’s training program, and maybe even the one from the year before that? When training priorities don’t change from year to year, but remain on the project list of the training plan, it speaks volumes. It tells us these are still vital skills our employees need to acquire, and that for one reason or another, we have still not implemented the training.
Blame for this lack of implementation often will be placed squarely on the shoulders of the internal training department. When this happens, you know it is time to review the health of the training function. If training is unable to perform the top priorities of the organization continually, then something is not working properly or it could be several areas that need fixing. If the training function is healthy, then it may not be an issue of training not being capable of implementation but another issue that needs attention.
I firmly believe that for a training department to provide a return on the investment being made in salaries, systems, equipment, facilities, and program costs, it must be able to perform the functions of each role in training. When competencies are in alignment with industry norms, training can function as the strategic partner it is meant to play in the organization. However, when a trainer is unable to facilitate a workshop or Webinar well, a designer creates a course without regard for learning objectives, or the training manager is running a reactive department without a training plan, then no one wins and everyone loses.
The answer is a training audit. A training function should undergo an annual audit to diagnose the current health of all of its personnel, processes, systems, and programs. Too often when an organization is losing money or wants to cut costs, the training department is the first to go. Although I never believe that an organization benefits from losing the training function, I have supported some training departments being closed for gross ineffectiveness. The key is not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
In a sense, an annual training audit is like an annual physical. It includes an evaluation of any problems, a recommended treatment, and finally, if all goes well, a cured department. Interestingly, what I have found is that when it comes to the cure, people have more excuses for delaying the fixing of the training department than Carter has pills, which is often why key initiatives remain on the priority list year after year. Yet the longer an organization delays curing the issues found in their training function, the longer the organization will take to improve in every area where humans are functioning.
In today’s economy, organizations cannot afford to waste money in any area of their operation. The training function—if running in a healthy state—can become an indispensable part of a company’s strategic plan. When the training department is unhealthy, it is almost like having a virus that is trying to defeat your success. Many of us when we were young experienced this same dilemma with tonsils that quit functioning correctly and needed to be removed so we could get healthy again.
To avoid needing to remove your training function because it is unhealthy and acting more like an operational virus, take the steps to fix your training department. Get healthy and then stay healthy!
Jim Hopkins is the president and CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting, a workplace performance consulting firm that aims to build leaders and empower people. For more information, visit www.jkhopkinsconsulting.com.