How to save training budget without cutting one single learning hour
Employee’s informal training practices make often 20% to 40% of the training plan redundant
Have you never asked yourself what does the training budget bring? Intuitively you always felt that most of the training in excel and other computer skills was dubious, as well as so many courses in sales techniques, motivation and leadership. But you are not against training itself and you do not want to be regarded as the typical old fashioned manager lacking sense for everything that is not immediate profit.
The answer is YES, YOU ARE RIGHT. A significant part of the training budget is useless!
Training and learning are different things. Although training of course improves learning, in corporate environments, learning is more a question of social interaction among employees. Several knowledge management and training projects, as well as careful observation during other projects done over the past two years have taught us, that employees informally exchange many ‘private training sessions’ on a peer to peer basis or at informal groups.
On the other hand, the way training plans are done by asking middle managers (often just via mail), tends to inflate them with the obvious.
So, if you want to make a real saving in your training budget you have to start by dismantling the very idea of training and, instead, try to build your corporate education system. You may proceed in four steps:
- Evaluate in a bottom up way what is really needed by staff. Avoid top down approaches and listen carefully to day to day major problems.
- Ask your middle managers –not what training do the employees need- but what they perform really bad or where the bottlenecks are: here you will find real needs.
- Find out who are the employees more asked by colleagues and find out what their questions are about. You may wonder!
- Finally evaluate what part of the training plan is really used and match that information against the initial demand.
Once you have this information, you will see that a significant part of the plan is never used, that almost 30% of the staff masters typical training (excel, sales, etc.) and that there is no real name in the training catalogue to what people really need, but it is usually about communicating well, dealing with customers, building and maintaining relationships and also complex technical issues only one in ten can solve.
So, to start saving training budget you have really to spend in the complex issues mastered by a few. Those few will become now the formal trainer of the employee groups that need that knowledge. For the typical training, name internal trainers and incentive them to organize internal trainings in a systematic way with the help of your HR department. You will see that they know more excel, sales, etc, than external trainers. Yes, from time to time they have to be externally trained, right. But with part of the savings they can really be sent to top courses. Regarding the diffuse knowledge labeled as communications, customer relations, etc. it is necessary to build a training catalogue that is really adapted to the actual situation. Once identified, the best way it is taught and enlarged is by training on real cases every involved employee can debate, analyze and improve.