An interesting post made by Rob Wilkins, is a confirmatory data point of what I’m seeing in the corporate learning sector:
This morning the CLC (Corporate Leadership Council) released the results of a survey that asked CEOs which areas were to suffer the most in response to the crisis. L&D [learning & development] came out on top at 38%. So this means, globally, that a third of organisations surveyed will stop investing in development of employees. Recruiting was second and IT infrastructure was third.
As I said in Opportunities in Difficult Times, there may be a silver lining, but not for everyone in our business. When your department is number one on the CEO chop list, you should be thinking about your reason for being. Training is seen by this group of CEO’s (and I would wager many others) as superfluous to the company’s bottom line. Obviously all of those initiatives like blended learning, competency-based training and learning style inventories haven’t convinced the boss that L&D is important. Neither have all the ROI calculations that get discussed during training conferences. The CEO and the CLO must be using different calculators.
The reason that these companies will stop investing in the development of employees is that they don’t see a direct correlation to their business. People go on a course and come back no better prepared for work. A successful course is where you learned perhaps 10% of what was covered. The rest of the stuff is interesting and might be useful – some day.
At the risk of repeating myself, the following message doesn’t get through to many training departments, and now they will pay the price.
Too many people in the training department make the leap from a performance issue (lack of skills, abilities, knowledge; lack of access to appropriate data and resources; etc) directly to training as the only solution. This is the wrong approach and the most costly. Even the CEO may play into this, with statements like “We have a training problem” and no one challenges that statement. There is no such thing as a training problem.
Here are some “training problems” that are not solved through training:
- Unclear expectations (such as policies & guidelines)
- Inadequate resources
- Unclear performance measures
- Rewards and consequences are not directly linked to the desired performance
These barriers can be addressed without training. Only when there is a genuine lack of skills and knowledge, is training required [repeat as necessary]. Training should only be delivered in cases where the other barriers to performance have been addressed. A trained worker, without the right resources and with unclear expectations, will still not perform up to the desired standard.
Training departments have allowed themselves to be lulled into a comfortable spot while times have been good. Everyone feels better after a little training, so that is what was prescribed – for all that ails you. I have met too few L&D professionals who can actually analyze work performance and come up with something other than training as the solution. Well, it seems that the days of the one trick pony are over.
I, for one, do not regret the demise of the L&D function. Perhaps our profession will wake up and start helping the organisations we serve.
For a follow-up on this post, read Tom Gram on What’s a self-respecting learning function to do in an economic crisis?