Plan for Staff Training Success

Susan Hall

I was alarmed by the opposition to training mentioned by Professor Peter Cappelli of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in this Bloomberg story carried by the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the article:

"We don't want to have to train anybody, and when those skills become obsolete, we don't want to retrain them," he says. Companies tend to hire people with IT engineering degrees, use those skills for five years, and then they want a new crop, says Cappelli, who researches human resource practices and talent management.

So let's hear it for any company that does want to train its staff. But the CIO has to be able to "sell" investment in training to the bean counters and take steps to ensure that learning is applied to the company's benefit. This CIO Update piece based on the ESI International global study, "Applying Training and Transferring Learning in the Workplace: How to Turn Hope into Reality," offers good advice on making that happen. It's written by Raed Haddad, the training consultancy's senior vice president for Global Delivery Services.


Among Haddad's most basic pieces of advice is to speak business, not IT. That's central to all that IT does. The training must offer some specific tie to business strategy. These are four common areas for that: to maximize returns, increase agility, minimize risk or improve performance.


Haddad offers these tips:


  • Make the case for change -- He says many companies fail to even explain why people are attending training and what the company expects from it.
  • Develop a plan that shows expected value -- This requires identifying various qualitative and quantitative metrics and establishing success criteria.
  • Motivate employees -- In the survey of more than 3,200 training-related managers and leaders in government and private business, only 20 percent offered a financial incentive to undergo training. But Haddad suggests using recognition and pride to your advantage.
  • Solve the manager puzzle -- He says managers must not only support the training, but have a clear plan for applying the learning on the job. He's especially disturbed by the lack of planning before training.
  • Plan what happens after class -- To reinforce change and dedication to apply learning, he suggests post-course discussions with the manager/team leader, on-the-job aids, informal support such as social networks or online forums, or communities of practice such as peer groups/coaching. He mentions having post-training aids to meet a learner's specific moment of need. Millennials, especially, are looking for those quick solutions to find the information they're seeking. The training plan also should include a measurement strategy post-class, he says.


Haddad concludes:

Training is more important than ever to maximize the work force, but determining the business impact of training must be quantified in terms of value of investment. Increasing the value of your project management and business analysis training means CIOs can and should develop a plan for building work force competencies based on the business strategy driving IT strategy, or even better yet, part of an iterative approach to finalizing IT strategy.

But there should be something in it for the employees beyond a lunch with the CEO or other recognition. As I've written before, IT pros crave visibility into their career path. Sending folks off for training but failing to create new career opportunities for them merely encourages them to jump ship.

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