After a client recently launched a new training program, he did something interesting. They interviewed everyone who chose do not to participate and asked them “why not?” The top three reasons people left the program were:
- being too busy
- bad timing
- Irrelevant content
What’s interesting about the results is that, even though the answers seem different on the surface, they all mean the same thing: “the value of this training is not worth my time.”
Most people are busy at work, but they always find time for what’s important to them. It’s easy to pretend you don’t have time to hit the gym if you don’t value exercise as much as an extra hour of work or watching a basketball game. . Every decision about how you use your time comes at the expense of something else.
Lack of time is not the real reason people skip training. It’s just another way of saying that the training is not useful for them.
This indicates a gap between what employees expect from training and what organizations actually deliver. SurveyMonkey found that 86% of employees say job training is important to them, but eLearning Industry reports that 33% of American workers say that the training currently provided by the company does not meet their expectations.
If you want to increase participation in learning and development programs, the question isn’t how to make people less busy, it’s a no-start. What’s really going to drive participation forward is increasing the value of training and then communicating that value in a way that makes people realize they can’t afford do not win time.
Here are 3 ways to increase and communicate the value of training:
1. Start at the top and align training with overall business strategy. Aligning training with business strategy is a way to create tremendous value. No company does it better than Keysight Technologies. Each year, Keysight’s CEO hosts an executive development meeting where the company’s top leaders discuss the company’s strategy for the next 12 months and outline the behaviors needed to execute that strategy. Then the content is distributed throughout the company. During the training, people receive important information about the direction the company is taking and also learn the behaviors and skills they need to help the company achieve its goals and objectives.
“We design something new every year based on company strategy and what happens during the year,” said Leslie Camino, senior director of corporate leadership development, culture and DEI at Keysight Technologies. “For example, during the pandemic, we realized that we had to find new ways to develop our dispersed employees. We have focused on engagement and innovation, and our employees have responded very positively.
Linking strategy and training will create programs that people need to take the time to participate in in order to do their job effectively. If your content is newly aligned with corporate strategy every year, as is the case at Keysight, the program will be especially relevant.
It’s also much harder to find an excuse do not attend training when your boss, your boss’s boss and their boss have taken the training. Using leaders as teachers creates accountability. Most people will show up for a training run by their boss’s boss.
2. Create personal interest. When it comes to training, you have to be prepared to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” Many employees appreciate training programs that not only help them do their jobs better, but also build skills to advance their careers (regardless of the organization). Others, like those seeking promotion or looking to increase their commission, may want hyper-targeted or personalized training that will help them achieve those goals faster. To increase the value of training, ask people what they want out of it.
Bettina Koblick, director of human resources at UiPath, a robotic process automation company, explains it this way: “How are you going to bake someone’s favorite birthday cake if you don’t ask them what flavor of cake they want? It’s so simple, but you have to ask. We don’t know better, [the employees] know best. It’s up to us to ask.
When interviewing or initiating these conversations with employees, keep in mind that people are likely to care less about the skills themselves and more about the results they are trying to achieve, such as a promotion or the increased credibility that would come from obtaining certification. . With the outcome in mind, the value of training will be evident from the start.
3. Communicate value through managers. What is valuable to a manager is inherently valuable to the employee. So when an employee’s manager makes training a priority alongside their other work, they’re much more likely to see and understand the value, especially if it’s tied to the employee’s goals. For example, if a sales manager’s goal is to retain all of their reps for 12 months, their boss might suggest an e-learning program on how to increase employee engagement. This program is now worthy of its time because it is tied to a goal and because its manager has made it clear that the training will help him achieve the goal.
This, of course, requires managers to have regular development conversations with their employees, which means that managers must, first and foremost, educate themselves on how to lead and develop their employees.
“All roads lead to managers and leaders,” said Melanie Foley, executive vice president and head of talent and business services at Liberty Mutual, in a recent interview. “Consider how to build your leadership capabilities based on your expectations and how you will achieve your own mission and purpose. And remember that people are multidimensional. It’s about supporting the whole person and taking a holistic approach to continuous learning and providing employees with as many resources as possible.
Showing participants the value of the training also shows your value
When you take the time to show attendees the value of training, you are also showing the value of the work you do. Instead of a nice-to-have program, your training becomes a necessary part of the big picture and business strategy. This will help you generate employee interest and engagement and earn a seat at the top leadership table.
Kevin Kruse is the founder and CEO of LEADx, a platform that evolves and supports leadership habits through micro-coaching and behavioral nudges. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of Great leaders have no rules, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Managementand Employee Engagement 2.0.