Study that image above for a while.
The lady in green represents the CxO of a company that has just started a training programme for her staff. She's hopeful that the employees being trained will start producing great results after the training ends.
The lady carrying the weights represents the employees, excited that this training will help her boost her productivity and earn her a wallet exploding year-end bonus.
Of course it never has a happily-ever-after ending like Disney movies but more like Twilight Zone endings.
Just pop into any LinkedIn Groups dedicated to talent development and you'll get a feel of the number of managers who are weeping that training programmes just don't cut it.
US companies spent anywhere from $70 Billion (not a typo - it's a billion) to $160 Billion on staff training in the US in 2015/2016. Globally it was in the region of $300 Billion.
It's estimated that 75% of that spend doesn't translate into positive ROI.
What has gone wrong? All this expenditure is not boosting employee engagement or even productivity.
At the core level, it's an issue of perception.
CxOs perceive training to be the panacea to boost revenues and/or productivity. Can't blame them because that's what they were taught in their MBAs in the HR module. Most of them would have undergone training throughout their career, but don't know any better because measuring productivity related to training is very tricky.
For decades everyone involved in employee training has known that training doesn't significantly sustain productivity boosts. Therefore many companies conduct re-training of the same programme at regular intervals for the same people, hoping that something will stick.
The situation is so bleak that many trainers try all sorts of techniques to improve training retention and hoping this would translate into sustained improvement in the workplace. Many trainers believe erroneously that classroom techniques (and sometimes antics) drive skills development and retention.
The problem is that this is a losing battle, simply because no matter how much a participant learns and retains during training, they would have flushed 65% from their memory bank within 7 days!
The Boston Consulting Group actually gave 3 reasons why most training programmes are a waste of time and money, but I doubt many CxOs have read it or even if they have, they probably just chucked the article in the bin.
Therefore, the possible solution is coaching which will transform people and hold them accountable to execute what they have learned.
I have spent many years looking for hard data that will indicate that coaching indeed is effective in translating classroom learning into appropriate behaviour in the field.
Recently I stumbled upon the proof. It was hidden in a book by Marshall Goldsmith, titled, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There In Sales".
Goldsmith and his partners conducted research among the sales staff within a single organisation numbering 3,000 +. They were segregated into 4 groups and this was the discovery after following up over 6 months compared to the 6 months prior to the research:
- Group 1 - no training: sales declined by 4%
- Group 2 - attended 8 hours of training: sales increased by 1%
- Group 3 - attended 8 hours training & one 30-minute phone coaching session: sales increased between 9 - 19%
- Group 4 - attended 8 hours training & 8 weeks of 30-minute phone coaching sessions: sales increased by 20%
There you go folks. That's as stone cold hard data as you can get.
Coaching is the most effective way to ensure that classroom knowledge and skills gained are implemented in the work space. Period.
Execution boosts retention, not repeat training.
The DSWA conducts coaching skills training for leaders in direct selling and executives of other industries and ingrains in them that effective coaching has to be at intervals of 1 week. This helps the coachee to boost memory and skill retention.
They also advise that coaching be cyclical (ideally between 3 to 6 months) and not throughout the year.
So, if you want yourself and your staff to be smiling like the image above after training sessions, always make sure your training programmes have follow-up coaching sessions.
Now it's over to you. Do you want to waste time and money on training or make every cent count?