The Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) 2017 State of the Industry Report reports that spending on employee learning has increased. Organizations spent $1,273 per employee in 2016, compared with $1,252 in 2015. In addition, the average number of formal learning hours used per employee also grew, reaching 34.1 hours in 2016, up from 33.5 hours in 2015. As an expert and proponent in the field of leadership development, numbers like this normally excite me. Let’s face it, convincing organizations to invest in their employees hasn’t always been an easy sell. But now that the trends are flowing in a positive direction and more money is being spent, it begs the question: Are organizations investing in the right training for their employees? Or are they simply checking a box?
Leadership Development isn’t a One-Size-Fits-All Proposition
What makes for a good leader in one organization differs in another. First, each company has its own culture, values, expertise, and approach thereby making up the unique competencies essential to the organization’s ability to continually improve, perform, and deliver on their brand promise. When we consider these competencies, no two organizations will look alike.
Second, each individual within that organization has strengths and weaknesses as it relates to those core competencies, along with specific skillsets they need to master in their role. And when we consider those individual needs, no two training programs will look exactly alike. So, given this reality, why is it that so many companies take such a generic, “shot gun” approach to training?
Measure Training Impact, Not Hours
The old adage, “Measure twice, cut once” comes as solid advice for organizations looking to develop their employees in a meaningful way. Case in point: Per a 2015 ATD research study, a staggering 62% of HR managers believed they were not doing a good job of meeting learner’s needs. And a 24×7 Learning Study found that only 12% of learners say they apply the skills from the training they receive to their job. With stats like this, it’s clear to see that organizations are not taking the time to map training objectives to learner needs. And that’s a pretty costly mistake when you consider the amount of money and time invested.
Instead, organizations would be well-advised to assess their employee’s training needs on an individual level before throwing the proverbial training book at them and inundating them with knowledge and skills they may or may not require. Performing a comprehensive assessment as a first step allows organizations to pinpoint gaps and needs, ensuring both training dollars and time are well spent. With the speed of business today the best strategy for developing and enhancing leaders, while keeping the uptime of the organization at full capacity, is a laser-focused approach. Be smart with your training. Be impactful.
Halley is a seasoned Executive Coach, CEO, Thought-Leader and Author who has spent the last two decades building, advising, and running highly successful businesses across multiple industries, namely in the leadership development and training field.