– So, how were the first pandemic months for you? What did you do differently from the perspective of people development, in this context?
– The shift to a virtual environment was disruptive for us too, so… we adapted as fast as we could. We had to take a lot of harsh measures like “letting people go”, a salary reduction for most of them, transforming the usual way of working to a virtual environment. We also had a lot of idle, very unproductive time, so it was necessary to give people something to do and enrolling them in online training sounded like a good idea at that time. We bought an entire library of online training and enrolled all of our people. Time management, Finance for non-finance, Management academy for managers and high potentials… all kind of programs. It really was a cost-effective measure and people could learn a lot.”
This dialogue took place 6 months ago, just a few weeks after the end of the lock down. My conversation partner was a HR manager and I am sure that you may recognize some of these unpopular measures. All of them had a single purpose: to ensure business continuity and if it’s still possible, to attain financial goals. Do you see yourself caught up in this decision process? If you do, let me ask you a question: why are we investing a lot of resources in training and development?
The answer is also obvious: to attain financial objectives and to ensure business continuity. We do trainings for no other reasons than these. When people acquire knowledge and information, when they are improving their abilities, when they increase their level of consciousness and motivation and they use them in the most essentials stages of their jobs, at most critical times, their performance goes up. Increased performance means better results, regardless how you want to measure them: financially, market share or brand awareness. This is the purpose of training and development. Looking at things from this perspective, we have to ask ourselves: what is the best solution in training people so that their performance goes up?
In “Managing Performance through Training and Development” Alan M. Saks, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Toronto University, analyzed training methods from 3 different perspectives:
- Training objective – developing knowledge, skills and improving attitudes
- Cost of training development and administration process
- Effectiveness or transfer on the job of the new acquired knowledge and skills
|Method||Knowledge||Skills||Attitudes||Costs (development)||Costs (administration)||Effectiveness|
If we know what lecture, video or case study are, let’s detail some of the other methods. Behavior modelling is a demonstration of how to perform a task and then trainees perform it themselves. Most of the time this demonstration is performed by trainer, so this method is linked with role plays and discussions – a debrief of what trainees saw and learned. Combining different methods results in training effectiveness so we have 3 distinct training approaches:
1. Online training
Can be used for acquiring information, procedures or technology knowledge. It can use only one-way methods of learning like reading / teaching and watching videos. You just log on and you start learning. Its main advantages are time flexibility – it is available 24 hours a day, accessibility – you can participate regardless where your location is and cost efficiency – it is very cheap indeed. Disadvantages: it does not provide real time feedback so it cannot be used for developing soft skills. These days online training has even a new dimension: many universities provide a wide curriculum of online trainings – MOOC (massive online open courses) and you can even get a degree, but they still get a very high rate of drop out from these programs. Why? Because this form of training it is highly dependent on participant’s motivation. Do you remember trying to learn a foreign language using this approach? And somehow… many of us failed. It’s due to low level of interaction and high degree of motivation required.
2. Classroom learning
It can use most of the listed methods of training. I think that the only one you cannot do it is a simulation (remember the last fire drill you executed with your colleagues? – that is a simulation) and the main advantage is having undivided attention of your trainees. This type of training is highly dependent on trainer’s abilities: providing feedback, facilitating, coaching participants. An experienced trainer will have a direct impact on motivation and level of participant’s engagement and consequently in training effectiveness. What are the disadvantages of classroom training? The first is cost. Because it requires physical presence in a classroom in a certain period of time, it involves travel and accommodation costs for participants. Sometimes these administrative costs may overcome the cost of training itself. The second disadvantage comes from lack of continuity, once the participants leave the classroom and return to daily activities. Once the magic is gone, everyday routine takes place and without management follow up and support, there is a low impact in changing behaviors.
3. Blended learning
Is a methodology that combines all of the above. Participants will use e-learning applications and gamifications for knowledge acquisition. Classroom learning is used for case studies, behavior modeling, role plays and debriefs filled with “a-ha” moments with high impact in skills development and motivation. Blended learning introduces even on the job moments of training, participants working individually with an expert or manager, to practice and get real time feedback. Depending on the program design the costs are somewhere in between the first two approaches, e-learning and classroom, while training effectiveness… it depends on who you are asking. Trainees will give maximum rate because of high level of interaction and feedback. Managers will appreciate the increased level of engagement of their employees. But from the perspective of improved skills the results are surprising, let’s not say shocking. The Brinkerhoff institute performed a study over 80 companies, for more than 10 years and the ROI in skills development is at maximum at 20%. Skills development means improved performance, remember? And improved performance means better CA, profit or market share, right? So… for every 100.000 $ invested in training… you will get an ROI of only 20% or even less.
So, what’s the solution? How can you effectively train and develop people today? Because you can’t afford not to train people in a continuous accelerated change environment in the days of our lives, right? Is there a solution?
Yes, it is. We call it HPLJ or High-Performance Learning Journey. And we will talk about it in the next articles.
(Checkout his Linkedin profile)