Don't block access to training ROI with ineffective program design. (Photo by me)

Just had an interesting discussion with a reporter on why more corporate training doesn't stick. I think there are primarily two reasons workforce training and staff development programs are less than effective:

1. It's not customized.

Off-the-shelf solutions are great (and usually more affordable), but their long-term value is limited. Why? Because these packaged trainings are one-size-fits-all. They simply aren't designed to meet your specific needs as a company and/or your needs as a learner. Training starts to stick when it's highly relevant to the work you're doing (or will be doing) and when it's not just lectures or contrived activities. Designing training that considers the knowledge level and learning ability of the recipients is critical to building a good foundation.

2. It's not supported.

But you can't just build the foundation and call it a day -- yet so many companies do. We rarely learn anything on the first time through. We need repeated exposures to the learning and directed support to help us put it into practice -- and do that correctly. A one-and-done approach tanks most training because people don't have the chance to work with the learnings in real time under normal conditions, or get the help they need when they get stuck.

I also think it's important to tie training to performance evaluations, but I don't advocate doing this if you're not going to take this two-pronged approach. It's not fair -- or productive -- to hold people accountable for learning when you don't support learning through well-designed training and follow-up support.

Spend more, get more.

This approach to training does cost more, but it also increases ROI exponentially. We've got some clients who only do the first part, and they do get incremental bumps from the instruction. But getting enterprise-wide adoption requires smart follow-up in small groups and on a one-on-one basis to reinforce learnings and address problems effectively.

There's more to our approach on improving the ROI of staff development and workforce training than these two concepts, but they won't get big gains without the first two. Drop me a line if you want to know more. Meantime, check out our training offerings.