Maximizing Your ROI on Training Time

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Team members are asking for training on new skills that are not even in their job description, or they want to take a course on persuasive communication.  

What is your immediate reaction?

Are they not happy with their job?

That takes too much time away from their work.

They never learn anything anyway.

If your reactions sound anything like this, you should take a look at your role as their manager.

1. The manager plays a critical role to maximize the return on investment (ROI) for training. Too often managers are resistant at worst–apathetic at best–about training for themselves and their team.Your team member may actually want training because they do love their job and want to do more of it and do it better. Don’t assume that learning is a reflection of dissatisfaction. Ask your employees what they would like to be learning about, how they think they will use it. The greatest way to support training and development is to ask these questions before they ask you.

If the subject matter is totally unrelated to their job, be reminded that they won’t be happy in their role forever. They will eventually look for new opportunities, and they will take them with or without your support. In the end, you will take great pride in having filled the ranks of your company with really great people. Wouldn’t that be a great reputation to have?

2. Training and development is an investment of time. But like putting money in the bank, it is not a waste of time. It’s not a waste if you actually invest it properly and enough of it. Before training, use a short period of time to set goals with your team member as to what they want to learn and what you would like to learn. There is a lot to be learned and a lot to be forgotten in a full-day or multiple day program. If they go in with goals, there a pretty high likelihood those goals will be met through, and the impact on that individual and on your immediate team will be greater. Invest a bit more time after the meeting to find out if their goals were met. Learn something for yourself about the content and quality of the program they attended.

Training and development does not have to be time out of the office. With online learning, coaching, and mentoring, it’s easy to get more information without leaving the work site. However, don’t be tempted to make learning and development something for employees to do “on their own time”. Give them the space and time to do these activities in the boundaries of their work time. Let them freely choose when the best time is to take advantage of independent learning.

3. It’s hard to go through a training or development program and not learn something. It’s very easy, however, to forget it. When the training and development period is over, the emphasis is invariably to catch up on phone calls and emails and “get back to work”. Training and development is work. As a manager, it is your imperative to encourage this attitude and give the team member a bit more time after the out-of-office period to summarize what they have learned, create an action plan and even share it with you and your entire team. In turn this encourages others to take continue their learning and development. This extra bit of learning time and interest will go a very long way to applying what is learned, because that is the true demonstration that something is learned.

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