07 Nov 2015

Is Your Training Strategy Putting Your Business Health at Risk?

To achieve that, the right approach, right method and right training needs to be applied to the specific situations. Not all businesses function the same way, so it follows that 1 program or method of training will work for every business. In our experience of consulting and training in the last 15 years, CEOs  could use their training budgets far more effectively if they thought about the problems in their business the same way as they thought about their own health.

In a time when money is tight and training budgets are precious, self-diagnose of a problem in your business and pre-determining a solution can not only waste money, it can send the performance of your business backwards.

Every one of us is time poor and focussed on achieving our outcomes. However the haste to get to the remedy can often mean that crucial symptoms of the problem get missed, resulting in a poor training diagnosis.

If you were ill, you might live with the illness for a while and try and plough through it, thinking that it will go away over time. But if the illness is a little more serious, you go to the Doctor. It might seem obvious, but the Doctor doesn’t just hear what you have to say and then prescribe medication. To do their job properly, they ask questions, run some basic tests and confirm their thoughts with relevant data. If the illness is more serious, they may refer you to a specialist for further tests.

The same applies to business.

CEO’s / HR Managers and business owners often self-diagnose a problem and go looking for the quickest remedy, often without considering all of the symptoms first. The question should be ‘what are the behaviours that I need to address and change?’, not ‘What course will fix the problem?’ With the right diagnosis, the right solution and remedy can be provided.

Finding the right training solution to address a problem is the same as seeking a specialist to diagnose and treat an illness. A specialist training organisation can ask the right questions and conduct the right tests to identify the root cause of a problem in your business, not just a symptom. 

I was asked recently to provide a quote for a 2-day leadership course. While part of me was more than happy to provide a proposal for two days of training, the most obvious question hadn’t been addressed – ‘What leadership behaviours are the Supervisors not currently doing to the required level?’ Was it implementing strategy, communicating to team members or effective delegation? Was it time management, not meeting targets or having difficult conversations? After completing our diagnostic tool, we agreed that the main problem was the cohesion between supervisors and the differing values and decisions that were being applied to the same workforce, causing confusion and frustration. Without this diagnosis, much of a two-day training course would have been wasted addressing a problem that wasn’t there, rather than focusing on the core issue.

So how do you avoid this situation? 

There are 5 steps to avoid self-diagnosis and potential waste of training funds.

1. Focus on the behaviour that you want to improve rather than the remedy.

Put into words what you actually want your people to be able to do and consider how you will recognize this change. Doe you want your people to ‘be better at communicating’ or do you want them to ‘provide constructive feedback to their staff and superiors on a weekly basis’. If you can’t describe the behaviour that needs improving, refer to Pt. 2.

2. Get the right test, diagnostic or interview to advise you on what behaviour you want to improve.

Just like a good doctor, a good facilitator or training organisation will take the time to diagnose the problem you face. Would a GP prescribe medication before asking a question or taking your temperature / blood pressure etc? If the proposed provider hasn’t asked questions and moves straight to the solution, the chances of success are less likely.

3. Ensure the training provider is also focused on the required behaviours improvement.

Good training organisations will assess the skill level of your staff before training takes place and be able to measure improvement once it is completed. Whether this is an interview, 360 degree feedback tool or online assessment, the training organisation should discuss how they will demonstrate improvement.

4. When selecting a training provider, go to the right specialist.

A GP is a generalist who will refer to a specialist when your problem is specific. Unfortunately, training organisations rarely refer to others when they are out of their depth. Just because you have used a training organisation for sales training does not mean that they will also be good at project management or leadership. Also check their credentials – ask for references, testimonials and look for recommendations on LinkedIn. If other businesses haven’t trusted their business health with the provider, why should you?

I was recently seeking a training provider to teach something specific with our team. The provider stated on their website, LinkedIn and Facebook page that their CEO was a former Telstra Businesswoman of the Year. Given the focus of the training I wanted, this was a clear selling point. When I investigated a little further, I found out this claim wasn’t true – yet this business had been using this statement for years. If this business was so willing to lie about their credentials, what else would they make up? Obviously they didn’t get the work.

In addition to checking credentials, apply a simple realism test to who is providing the training you require. Would you ask the same person to do your project management, your tax return and your car service? If not, would you also ask the same training organisation to run your computer training, customer service trainingand leadership training?

5. Make sure you feel good at the end of the process.

If this was a medical problem you would know when you felt better – it would be when the symptoms stopped. Make sure you apply the same for your business. Has the behaviour that was being addressed improved? If not, what needs to change? Have you received a return on investment?

There is no need for a common cold to turn into business pneumonia because of lack of attention or misdiagnosis of a problem. Equally, there is no need for ongoing business health problems because of a poorly prescribed training initiative. Take the time to understand what you need and research your provider – the health of your business may depend on it.