Getting Insight into the Value of Training Programs

Evaluating whether or not training programs offered employees provides value does not have to an onerous process, but it must be more than simply the results of the "smiley sheet."

Certainly, we could do a Return on Investment (ROI) study for leadership and other strategic programs, and that would be quite valuable. In this article, however, I want to focus on how to get information about the value of your smaller training programs without stressing yourself out. I’ll share this information through a client story.

A Client Story

Abudi Consulting Group (ACG) has been working with one of our clients providing training to their employees for over eight years. We provide private, open enrollment training throughout their US and Europe locations. These are delivered primarily on the ground (face-to-face) but on occasion virtually.

Quarterly, ACG meets with the client at their headquarters as part of their divisional leadership off-site. This attendance is primarily to listen as divisional heads discuss goals and challenges both over the short-term and the long-term. This enables ACG to partner effectively with the learning & development group to roll out training options to address these challenges and ensure skills and knowledge are gained to achieve short- and long-term goals. There is an option after the divisional leadership meeting to ask questions and have discussions with leaders.

Let me use a simple example to illustrate.

About a month ago, during one of these quarterly division leadership meetings, there was significant concern across three divisions that a number of millennials were moving into supervisory roles with no experience managing people. It was creating problems in achieving goals. Even after taking an internal program focused on what supervisors need to know, it didn’t seem to help. A note passed to me by learning & development during the meeting shared that the internal training was purely focused on human resource components of the role, such as performance reviews, disciplining employees, hiring and interviewing skills. Therefore, the program the leaders were referring to really did not address how to move from being an individual contributor to managing people.

Since I am not able to ask questions during these divisional leadership meetings (remember, I’m only there to listen and learn as a partner to the learning & development group); I did arrange for a follow up discussion with a number of the leaders after the session, prior to dinner.

In a follow up session with key division leaders, I asked the following two questions:

  • Where, in particular, are you seeing an impact on achieving goals?
  • What skills, in your opinion, are your junior supervisors lacking on the job?
  • Of the supervisors you have, who, in your opinion, outshines all the others and why?

With the information gathered from this ad hoc meeting with leaders, learning & development and I retreated back to a conference room to outline how we might address their concerns. We would have 30 minutes to present a few ideas at the morning session of the divisional leadership meeting.

Back in a conference room, the learning & development team and I developed the following ideas to share with the divisional leaders:

  • A 2 day supervisory training program that would focus on:
    • moving from an individual contributor to a supervisor
    • setting goals and expectations/alignment to KPIs and divisional goals
    • time management and delegation
    • mentoring employees
    • initiating continuous improvement efforts/leading change
    • emotional intelligence for managers
  • A mentoring program

We asked divisional leaders for permission to reach out to those supervisors who they mentioned excelled on the job in order to interview them about their challenges. We also asked divisional leaders to support 2 days off the job for new supervisor training. They granted that permission. With that data we would gather, we would finalize the outline provided for a 2 day supervisory training program and share that with division leaders.

The program would be rolled out within one month, and the mentoring program developed and rolled out within four months.

Let’s skip to later on after a number of runs of the program and the launch of the mentoring component.

Six Months Later: Checking In

Six months later, the supervisory training program had run seven times. The mentoring program had just started a month earlier, after having developed training for mentors and mentees. Supervisors utilized a collaboration portal to have access to our instructors and to each other. This enabled them to share best practices, address challenges and get support as they applied their skills. All feedback from supervisors was positive and a 360 assessment also provided valuable data. But we wanted to hear from divisional leadership. Goals to be achieved (or “to do’s” if you will) from the program included:

  • Setting goals with each of their employees
  • Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with employees
  • Developing a strategic plan for their workgroup with a focus on 2 – 3 years out – with a focus on continuous improvement
  • Developing operational plans to achieve strategic department and/or divisional goals

We checked in on these deliverables and provided guidance through the portal and ensured that mentors also provided support in creating deliverables as part of their guidance.

At a divisional leadership meeting, we asked the leaders their impression of the program to date and whether they had seen any improvement. We also shared with them the data from the 360 assessment. Feedback was exceptionally positive; especially for those supervisors who had attended earlier runs of the program and were getting more comfortable in their role. All divisional leaders reported that the “to do’s” had been completed and they had definitely seen movement in the right direction.

This positive assessment enabled for funding of this program for the next five years; with the organization running the program quarterly. Promotions were aligned to the quarterly supervisory training sessions.

While 2 days of training may not seem substantial, the collaboration portal enabled for continued learning without having to take time off the job. This was key for securing divisional leadership support. Leadership was barely supportive of 2 days but agreed as a trial. Due to its obvious success, they were willing to support 2 days going forward. We knew, however, that to really make the learning stick the collaboration portal would be a necessity as would aligning mentors and their work with supervisors.

How We Showed the Value

We could have done a full ROI study of the program, but were able to accomplish what we needed – getting support from the divisional leaders to fund the program – by:

  • Conducting a 360 assessment and showing results from that effort
  • Setting clear expectations and goals for the program ("to do’s")
  • Ensuring the supervisors had the training and support to implement against those goals

All of this aligned to expectations of divisional leaders based on our initial conversation with them.

Want to learn more about this client and improvements realized in the supervisory group since running this program? Contact Gina today to learn more!

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