HR executives, learning officers, and the C-suite affect the efficacy of Learning & Development within their organizations and can positively impact their company’s investment in training to produce desired results. The decisions these senior leaders make, as well as the signals they send about training, can either enable or hamper training effectiveness.
By now, there is abundant evidence that mindfully designed training works, so leaders should embrace that their organization invests adequately in training. Leaders can be informed, evangelistic “L&D investors.” Training is best regarded as an investment in an organization’s future, rather than as a burdensome cost of doing business. In fact, underinvesting can leave an organization at a competitive disadvantage.
What type of investor are you and your C-Suite?
Exactly like investing in the stock market, the adjectives informed, active, and passive apply in L&D investing. Compare L&D training to investing in a mutual fund – you would not invest without conducting research on the fund’s past performance or subsequently tracking returns over time.
Informed: Being knowledgeable enough about training methodologies and goals to make sophisticated decisions. Without being informed, it is easy to fall prey to what looks and sounds cool—the latest training fad or technology. Informed investments in training are based on a recognized foundation and help companies avoid costs that are unlikely to produce desired results or measurable ROI.
Active: Asking challenging questions, informed by what is known about what advances training effectiveness. Active L&D investing includes asking questions to help safeguard that your company will address the appropriate training needs, endorse the appropriate training method, and empower the appropriate actions to be taken both before and after training. Active L&D investing also means contiguous involvement and, of course, demonstrating leadership behaviors to communicate that training is highly valued within the organization. The C-suite can absolutely set the tone-from-the-top by participating in training as presenters and as attendees, by inspiring employees to attend training, and by asking their learners about how they will apply what they learned on the job.
Passive: Approving or disapproving the training budget. Certainly, the scale of your organization impacts the level of responsibility and delegation for L&D, however, unlike investing a mutual fund, investing in L&D in inherently investing is people. Being passive toward employees and their job motivation is counterproductive. L&D is one example where “trickle-down” economics clearly works.
No matter what their L&D investment style, informed, active, or passive, all L&D stakeholders should follow up on training to assess that their investment is meeting expectations and to make evidence-based, agile L&D improvements.
20 Key Questions Business Leaders Should Ask About Training
General training questions:
- Have we previously invested appropriately and intelligently in training and L&D activities in our organization?
- How have we measured training success in the past?
- How have we prioritized the most important training needs and determined training goals?
- How clear are we about where the gaps exist?
- How clear are we about the competencies we will need in order to compete successfully?
- Have we diagnosed our organization’s learning environment?
- What are we doing to make our organization more conducive to learning?
- What specifically do you need me to do to send the right signals to our employees about the importance of L&D in our organization?
- What results, measurable and anecdotal, do we expect to see?
Specific training program questions:
- What type of training needs analysis have we conducted to ensure we will be training the right things in an optimal way?
- What training strategy will be implemented?
- How are we incorporating effective instructional design elements of information, demonstration, practice, and feedback?
- How clear are the learning objectives for our employees?
- What are we doing to ensure we satisfactorily engage, motivate, and challenge our learners?
- What are we doing to prepare employees, remove obstacles on the job, and reinforce and sustain learning?
- What are we going to do before and after this training to ensure employees can and will use what they have learned?
- How is any training technology that we plan to use going to enhance learning and help trainees perform their jobs better, and not just look cool or is fun to use?
- Should we be evaluating this training program for broad roll out?
- Can the training program be localized for global implementation?
- How do we make adjustments to a trial training program, as well as decide whether to continue it?