In today’s rapidly changing social and business environment, training and developing employees is a key factor in moving organizations forward. However, many organizations have failed to capitalize on the benefits of learning. This is not from want of investing in training courses, as the training business is a multi-billion dollar industry but in many cases, organizations continue to reap little benefit from their training budgets.
Organizations failing to achieve real returns from their training investments typically keep no training records or record activity and expenditure haphazardly. Training in these organizations is often the result of glossy training brochures arriving at someone’s desk or as knee-jerk reactions to workplace incidents. Where there is a real performance problem, in many cases, no or a half-hearted attempt is made to determine if training is the appropriate solution. Once trainees return to the workplace, little or no follow up is made to check that employees are using the new skills and to help them where they have difficulties. In those cases where trainees return to the workplace with much enthusiasm, after a very short while it is back to business as usual. In consequence, at the end of the year there is very little to show for all the money and time that was spent on training.
How can we turn this around ?
The power of the Training Management Maturity Model lies in its ability to provide with an idea of where an organization sits in terms of training system effectiveness and in giving the structure needed to construct a road map for improvement.
This model will be helpful even if an organization already has an established training system and is just not sure about what steps to take next.Likewise, the usefulness of this model is not restricted to organizations that use exclusively in-house trainers and consultants whereas also equally for those who buy all or some of the training from outside. Whether training is developed and delivered using internal resources or external, the training system requires effective management if it is to serve adequately the needs of the organization.
Four Levels of Maturity
1. Visibility – To concentrate on getting the basic administrative processes defined and practiced rigorously. Without knowing who has been trained in what and when, how much it cost and what they thought of it, improvement activities at the next level would be administratively unsupported and chaotic.
2. Standards – There should be a focus on improving the quality of the training product developed and finally delivered. Skill gaps should be identified before training begins and designers and trainers should be professionally equipped to ensure that participants have learned the desired skills following the training. If the training product remains of poor quality and does not deliver the required skills, planning activities conducted at the next level are destined for failure.
3. Planning – More emphasis should be placed on mobilizing training to hit areas of greatest organizational need. Training is used more effectively as an organizational tool for achieving strategic objectives and less as discretionary expenditure in response to adhoc requests. Without a clear picture of where the organization is going and robust planning processes in place, improvement activities at the next level will have little direction.
4. Performance – It leverages off the disciplines, systems and practices put in place during the previous three stages to achieve real organizational benefits from training. The focus is unswerving on measurable performance improvement at the level of the organization, teams and individuals. At this level, attention to training activities and inputs is only maintained in so far as they serve the achievement of organizational outcomes.
The model is fully shown below and it is structured deliberately around organizational objectives and practices. Each level of the model is defined by a Focus, a corresponding Primary Objective, Key Practices and suggested Key Performance Indicators. The overall mission of the training and development function is to “Deliver people capability required to achieve organizational objectives through training and development activities”. Each level of the model focuses on just one of four core process which is reflected in the Focus statement at each of the four levels. The model helps to make sense of those core processes and provides guidance on which activities to concentrate for maximum impact on the road to improvement.
It can be seen that as organizations move through the levels, achievement at each level lays a stepping-stone for the next. It will be difficult for an organization to move to the next level of maturity without institutionalising the practices of the previous level. This is because a number of themes run through the levels. Broadly speaking, as the training system matures there will be:
- more effective targeting of training in areas of high organizational impact
- more effective planning and reporting
- greater integration of training with other people management systems
- more collaborative partnerships with internal and external stakeholders
- increasing attention to all phases of an employee’s career
- more highly developed skills in internal and external trainers and consultants
- increasing emphasis on measuring organizational outcomes and less on activities and inputs