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Make the training budget work

There is a lot of pressure on us to use L&D spending wisely. In this blog, I will take a look at how, instead of taking it all on ourselves, we can involve staff and suppliers in that process.

We all know that companies feel under pressure to deliver effective training and development interventions. It can sometimes be challenging to do this when there are so many internal and external factors that can influence the process. I promise, this isn't a blog moaning about the economy and the impact it has had on companies, however as the training and learning budget is always one of the things that gets cut first it is still wise for companies to know how to make this budget work for everyone. This got me thinking about how we can create our own best practice approaches to L&D spend to help utilise L&D resources efficiently!

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Getting payback from training

“Training is an overhead isn’t it?”

I think it is fair to say that the view of training as a cost prevails through many sectors of our economy. There are some clear areas of activity where training definitely pays back. The WW1 battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 was won by the Canadians after months of intensive training. Professional athletes spend a substantial number of their waking hours in training. Pilots are trained and re-trained consistently, as are other roles such as divers and heavy plant machinery operators. In these kind of ‘life critical’ areas the payback for training is often seen intuitively by budget holders and rarely questioned.

In our day-to-day management roles, however, the issue is somewhat blurred. Organisations seem to generally think that training is a ‘good thing’, and often do start to invest in training significantly if there is increasing staff turnover or a loss of competitive advantage. Sometimes, however, we seem to be short sighted. The Guardian reports on why the German economy is so robust, and it is significantly so due to the German attitude to training as an investment. So why in the UK do we often struggle to get senior staff to throw their weight behind training initiatives?

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Failure to face failure?

The military has quite a decent record in facing possible failure and adjusting accordingly. In fact, 360-degree appraisals were the first known use of a multiple-source feedback method was during World War II, by the German military. Although it lacked the current name, the concept was the same. Soldiers were evaluated by peers, supervisors and subordinates to provide insight and recommendations on how to improve performance.

The great idea of course behind 360's is that the individual receives more data about him/her self. That should enable a few warning signals to become visible so that the individual can avoid possible failure points.

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The problem with Personal Development Reviews ...

So, when was the last time you got a promotion, and the reason given was “Well, we went through all your Personal Development Review reports and you are clearly the right person for the job.”

In reality, Personal Development Reviews (PDRs) don’t seem to count much for promotion. Neither have I ever seen PDR results quoted when applying for another job, either in support of the application or questioned owned about at interview. So, if a PDR isn’t about recording performance in order to get the next job, what is it for?

Annie Ives is a Senior Consultant with Goodfoot, and has solid experience building powerful Personal Development Review systems in multi-nationals.

Here at Goodfoot we did some informal research back in September and October 2016, here is what we found:

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Reflection time as a manager pays huge dividends

Whilst coaching managers, the conversations often turn towards the guilt managers feel about the way they have responded to different people issues.  “If only I had listened to what they really wanted…”, “if only I had not snapped back...” The problem with regret is that you don’t proactively learn from mistakes, but wallow in what could have been.

The power of taking time out to think helps leaders shape future responses.  By using a structure to think about a situation that has already happened managers can unpack why they responded in certain way and how they could have responded differently.  In this way the brain begins to forge new neural pathways within their unconscious, alerts them when similar situations arise so they have the opportunity to choose a different approach.

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Tools to help teams to solve business problems

In today’s world, we have to think quicker, be sharper, and take action quickly to be ahead of the game.  The pressure for high performance has never been greater and change is relentless. What can happen too often is that the first decision is the one that gets implemented due to expediency.

But how often do you reflect on decisions that have been poorly made?  Problem solving team events that result in great decisions are quite scarce. If you had had more time would you have come up with some better alternatives?  Why don’t people speak up or moan when problems are not solved with their input and decisions are made without their input?

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Getting senior support for your training budget

We hear the same story quite frequently. In tough times marketing and training get cut. We all also know that in tough times smart companies invest in training. What we need is the tools to explain why the right training spend is a good move even in tough times. But the real trick to get backing is to find out what type of R.O.I. the decision makers actually want. It could be straight money saving, or it could be time saving or reduction of turnover or many other factors which are the political hot potato. Once we can get them to explain that to us, and we couch our proposals for budget in those terms, it is difficult for them then to turn down our proposals and we can make the training budget work.

Back in the day I was given responsibility for training technical staff. Being a techy I was caught between loving the technical stuff and wanting to sit on my own solving problems and feeling intelligent, or training others in the darker side of software coding and feeling even more intelligent. I am still the same I guess, flitting between ‘leave me alone I want to work on something’ through to ‘let me sit with you and show you how it’s done’. Both are mini ego trips in their way, and why not, we all need to feel useful !

One thing that has changed since those early days of my career is my approach to ROI, especially for management training. We used to get given budgets and made sure we spent them to get the next inflationary increase. Now it is smarter to be able to discuss investment and returns with senior staff.

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Thinking time for management reflection - an essential management tool

How many times have you said “There aren’t enough hours in the day” or “if only I could press a pause button, so everything stops for a while”.  There are so many demands placed on us and the pace of work is increasing as companies compete for market share. Just responding to the barrage of e-mails that land in your inbox every hour, let alone juggling your instagram and snapchat activity, can be overwhelming.

It is no wonder that there is a rise of stress in the workplace as people grapple with prioritising workload, making quick decisions often in the absence of enough data, and the demands of reporting to multiple bosses.  Often managers turn to Executive coaches, or time management courses to support their development of a work/life balance.  There are also many performance lessons from sport. But what happens if you don’t have access to costly solutions?

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Performance lessons from sport

I have just arrived back from the Isle of Man after watching sane individuals ride motorcycles at insane speeds. The average lap record was broken, it is now over 135 mph. To get an idea picture this, take a drive out of London on the country roads to the south coast. Through villages and towns. Then imagine that every time you slow down to 30mph for a tight bend, you have to go back up to at least 160mph to get your average back to 135mph. In some parts you’ll need to do nearly 200mph to keep that average speed. And this is on country roads.

Sports people can achieve some extraordinary things, and push the ability of their bodies and minds into areas which seem incredulous to us ordinary folk. All of them are brave of course, it takes courage to push body and mind into these high achieving areas. And so this what the Isle of Man T.T. got me thinking about … is there a place for courage in our day to day organisational lives?

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