Why Did You Choose That Training?
Organizations contract or provide training throughout the year either as needed or as part of their strategic plan. While that is the ideal, too often the reasons or timing for training isn’t that clear. Unfortunately, when training isn’t properly planned it rarely gives the best experience or return on investment.
We have been hired on more than one occasion to provide training at the end of a fiscal year. The problem with this type of training is that it is usually more driven by spending the remaining training budget than satisfying identified needs. The worst one we were involved in was a training I provided to a federal agency. The contract was to provide 6 hours of training in one day. The materials included 3 hours of content pulled from a one day training on basic Excel, 2 hours from a related but different 2-day training on Advanced Excel, and 1 hour from a totally unrelated 2-day training on Access. The topics for this training came from a survey of their people to see what they needed and wanted.
Each the individual trainings had merit and value and were well thought out. But because I could only do small parts of each and only touch superficially on those I did, the day was very fragmented and too much time was spent trying to tie it all together.
The reason for the mix and match was because the agency only had enough money for one day of training. I did the best I could with the situation I was given and received good evaluations, but in my opinion the training wasn’t very effective. The training would have been better if it had focused on one topic and fully explored that topic fully.
Educational agencies have several potential problems providing training for their people. First is changing administrations. When a new administrator comes into an agency, they bring with them their favorite programs and philosophy. While there isn’t anything inherently good or bad in the change, the problem comes from a lack of continuity in the educational program. Lack of continuity can lead to confusion and frustration by both staff and students and poorer performance than expected.
The other aspect to training in educational agencies is that new program and philosophies require people to be trained in the nuances of the program for successful implementation. It isn’t unusual for people to receive intense training for one or two days at the beginning of a school year and then barely touch on the program for the next nine months. For new skills or knowledge to be useful, there needs to be consistent follow-up training and evaluations. Few educational agencies have the time or finances to have long-term training or follow-up.
I have been involved on both sides of this situation – both giving and receiving training in a one shot almost drive-by fashion. This type of training lacks the long-range continuity of a strategic plan and can feel like patched road with bumps and bounces jarring everyone along for the ride.
Training is required for organizations to be successful but training needs to be properly planned. Trying to jam it in to spend dollars or changing directions with a new administrator will not build consistent results. Plus, it won’t give people the skills they need to do their jobs well. Too often training is an afterthought and is less successful than it could be when included a in strategic planning session.