In his book “Working Without A Net,” Morris R. Schechtman pinpointed from my perspective the answer to why training results are not what they should be when he wrote: “As much as we may like to think that accountability exists in our marketplace, we usually have nothing of the kind. Organizations give the concept lip service, but they do not hold anyone truly accountable.”
No matter how good the training materials and other resources, a lack of accountability results in numerous critiques from trainers and trainees:
There was no consistency, it lacked structure,
It took too much time,
There was so much material to wade through and
there were too many more important things that had to get done, and on and on.
With the existence of accountability, these critiques are dramatically reduced because you can identify which critiques are legitimate and in many cases smoke screens to justify why the desired training results were not achieved.
Existence of Accountability
When there is accountability for the training results, management can answer the following questions with very little hesitation:
- Was the trainee trained?
- Was the “trainer” involved in the training?
- Was local management aware of the quality of training being given?
- Was regional management aware of the quality of the training being delivered?
No Structure/No Accountability
If you are going to hold someone accountable for a result, there first must be a defined, measurable result that are going to be held accountable to achieve – as Steven Covey says, Begin with a end in mine. Secondly, there needs to be structure in place that establishes what is being measured and the steps required to demonstrate the steps were taken so that desired measurable result is achieved.
Properly built, this structure becomes the focal point where all parties directly or indirectly
involved in the training. It provides the opportunity to facilitate, monitor, reinforce and obtain a clear understanding of what is actually happening in the delivery of the training. In other words, they are able to answer the questions listed above. In addition, they are able to continuously improve upon what is being accomplished and set a course of action towards solving core problems, rather than addressing the “feel good” responses that raise the question “if it was so good why haven’t our results improved?”
Accountability is the “fuel” that drives this structure
The structure provides the basis for accountability because it:
- Positions individuals to complete the tasks that are visible and measurable.
- Clarifies areas in which one will be held accountable.
- Sets expectations in a specific and clearly differentiating manner.
- Delineates how the expectations will be measured both in quantity, quality and time frame.
- Empowers the trainee and trainer to achieve the desired results and visibly places the success for the training result in their hands – particular the trainee.
The irony is that the solution to the “getting it used” problem, namely, establishing accountability, does not cost any money, and surprisingly does not have to involve a lot of time on the part of the “owner.” Yet, like Morris Schechtman points out in his book it does not exist. In addition, the “vision of the end in mind” does not have to take an inordinate amount of time either, but it is rarely done. The expensive part is that wrong support was provided, maximum benefits both cost of providing and outcomes achieved from resources and/or the building of these resources were not achieved. The ability to utilize them with their appropriate audiences throughout their development phases within the organization are not realized.
The Bottom Line
It takes discipline to implement an effective training program – beginning with the (1)
building the structure, (2) Establishing Accountability and (3) managing the outcome. But for organizations that want to maximize productivity of their people, have a positive
impact on profitability and deal with the budgetary constraints that exist today, the R.O.I will come from:
- Accelerating the productivity of top performers – they are top performers because they can get there in spite of the training. However, giving them the structure and tools to become peak performers faster will impact your R.O.I.
- Early identification of poor performers – this brings the greatest return on investment. Bradford D. Smart, PhD in his book, “Top Grading” spells out the cost of a mis-hire. The sooner a mis-hire is identified, the better it is for the individual, the company and the R.O.I.
- Get existing and new resources used – “The real genius in not in building the materials, it is in getting it used.” In today’s webinar culture and the number of webinars there is a growing numbness to participating them. Webinars are being used so frequently that they have become a source of information not learning and the participants typically multitask while participating in the webinar.
The novelty of eLearning from a learner perspective wearing thin as well. The assumption is that the eLearner is self-motivated and in many cases that is not a good assumption