People often talk increasing the return on investment for training, and generally, most people point to others to be responsible for that return, or measure that return. The reality is that there are three groups and one other factor that have significant impact on that rate of return, and they work together like the four legs on a chair.
Like a chair, when any of them are weakened, the chair is less safe (or in our case, ROI is damaged), if a leg is missing completely, watch out! Since discussing these four legs of training’s ROI chair in detail goes far beyond the scope of this article, let’s just identify them and talk about how they relate to you as a leader.
Spoiler alert – one of the legs is you.
The Four Legs
The trainer. They are responsible for what is delivered (and available to be learned) and the environment and process for how it is delivered.
The learner. They are responsible for being open to the learning, looking for ways to apply it, and deciding to do so when they get back to work.
The leader. They responsible for helping the learner see the value, holding learners accountable, and much more (more to come in a minute).
The work environment. The culture and working environment impacts everyone’s behavior, attitude and performance in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
While one of these people is you, as a leader you also have significant influence over the work environment as well.
The bottom line? When it comes to increasing the ROI of your training investment, stop blaming others and look in the mirror. Once you’ve realized that, what can you do?
I’m glad you asked.
What You Can Do
Here are seven actions you can take that will have both an immediate and long term impact on the ROI of all your training investments.
Pick the right experience. Learn what the learning objectives of the workshop or learning event are – and match the workshop with the needs of the individual. Make sure you are sending people to the right experience for the right reasons at the right time.
Talk to people before they go. Discuss their goals (make sure they have goals for the learning experience) and let them know your expectations of application. Before this meeting is over, set up a time after the training to get back together to discuss it.
Meet with people after they return. Have people share what they learned, and what actions they plan to take. Find out what you can do to support their learning and application, and again, set up expectations for implementation.
Follow-up. Follow-up on their learning and actions – hold them accountable. Be encouraging and supportive of their growth and application.
Monitor the work environment. Think about how people will be viewed and supported when they come back from any learning experience and try something new. If you aren’t pleased with your observations, start influencing change today.
Set overall expectations for application and growth. This goes beyond a single person and a single training investment. As a leader let people know that you expect them to learn from training and apply what they’ve learned. Let people know that mistakes and bobbles are ok if they are in the pursuit of improvement.
Support all learning and development. Not all learning takes place in a workshop, and not all learning requires an investment of dollars. You increase your overall ROI when you encourage and support learning both formally and informally, all the time.
Oh, and one more idea, (its #8 if you are counting) . . .
Be a learner yourself. The most direct thing you can do, and the thing you have 100% control over is to role model the behavior of being a learner, and applying what you learn! This includes letting your team know what you are trying to improve and asking for their feedback and support, being open about your mistakes, and consistently working to improve your behavior, skills, and performance. While all the other items are important, start here, your role model behavior will more powerful than you might think.