Why Training Investment is a Failure to Most Organizations

By Drew Stevens, Ph.D.

Reading a recent Wall Street Journal article I was flabbergasted to learn of organizations that are recently increasing the amount of leadership development training. Ironically, organizations are dropping organizational development in light of budget limitations. With tighter budgets and concerns over the recession, many organizations are attempting work on both leadership and team building skills.

With careful analysis of both value and outcome organizational development is heading in the wrong direction. Developing staff during an economic quagmire sends both the improper message and focus.

Here is the rationale why training fails in organization:

1.    The first area of focus during economic turmoil is sales. Nothing happens without something in the organization getting sold. There must be a solid focus on selling methodology, value orientation and relationship building. Energies must be applied to building sales adjuncts and not leadership.

2.    Every organization exists for one purpose- the customer. Attempting to build narcissistic programs without focus on client retention is wasteful.

3.    Leadership Development is a waste. If the organizational culture does not exemplify empowerment, strategy and client focus I good or bad times, the training is wasteful.

4.    There is a current fear that training aids employee retention. This is farthest from the truth; people leave bad managers not bad companies. Seek to retain talent by ending the infighting, the silos and the bad management.

5.    For years I have watched organizations attempt team building. I enjoy seeking an organization try to mend conversation between Bob and Ted. They take the two on a whitewater rafting trip with a case of beer hoping for cajoling. Believe me if Ted and Bob do not like each other, one is not returning. All of our clients believe that greater teamwork is essential to their efficiency and effectiveness. However clients actually have groups rather than teams. There are those in the group that win while others lose. In addition, there is too much focus on the individual accountable versus what the team can provide.

6.    The training and development industry is self-serving. Over $60 billion is spent on training every year with very little focus on return on investment. It is wasteful to conduct training without any sustainable result. Training is an event that does not change behavior in a six-hour period. In addition, training is a reaction to something gone awry.

7.     Training attempts to throw independent consultants and money at an issue to be resolved. What is required are metrics of accountability both before and after. Managers must hold themselves and employees accountable after an event.

8.    Training must be part of an ongoing process, such as coaching, mentoring and counseling. These techniques not only think through what is before but what goes after. Using these techniques, managers can review the obstacles seeking application on the job.

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