Deciding to invest time, money and resources in soft skills training should always lead to the question of what benefits will the organisation gain and when will it see them? If you are not asking these questions, you are not getting an efficient return on your training investment.
OMT Global uses a simple graph to set expectations of training benefits over time. It illustrates three key points:
- It takes time to realise benefits from training; they do not start immediately after the training.
- The greatest impact of training does not occur unless and until operations owns the new behaviours
- Real behavioural change does not occur until it becomes part of day to day.
The horizontal line is a timeline and the vertical line crosses it when the trainees return from training armed with new skills to implement in their regular job; the left side is time before this point and the right side is after it. The area below the line represents resources invested in training, and the area above the line represents benefits to the organisation arising from the training.
Lesson 1: The point where the trainees return to their jobs and begin to implement what they have learned is actually still an investment in time and resources because the employees may be uncomfortable using their new skills and could actually be slower or temporarily less efficient.
Lesson 2: Even after new processes have become established, they will tend to stall unless the management level above the trainees is supportive of them and aware of how to gain business benefits from them. This kind of “management ownership” is required to see the full benefit of the training within the organisation.
Lesson 3: Real behavioural change is hard to achieve and takes time. It requires the knowledge that comes from training, and support from the operation as a whole, but even with both of these, it takes sustained commitment to become part of the company culture and make a lasting performance improvement.
It is critical to involve high-level operational stakeholders in the planning phases of training because we understand that without this kind of engagement, the organisation will not benefit from the training. Moreover, many organisations spend too much time worrying about training content and the skills of the trainer, while this is important, it is far more important to focus on what happens when participants return to the workplace. If you are not focusing on this your return on training investment is going to be minimal.