Five strategies to increase the return on investment in training

  For companies, training is an investment, and of course they have the right to demand a return. Only when training can significantly improve performance, the boss and business department are willing to invest resources and time, otherwise there is no need for training. Without investment, the training department becomes a dispensable display. Therefore, the only meaning of the existence of the training department is to improve business performance.
  In fact, the training effect of many companies is not satisfactory. According to the survey, only 25% of line managers believe that training has significantly improved business performance, and 50% of line managers believe that the cancellation of the training department will not affect employee performance. So how to improve the return on investment of training?
  We know that the rate of return on investment = return/input, so the rate of return on investment in training = business benefits brought by training/financial cost of training input + labor cost + time cost. To increase the return on investment in training, there are nothing more than two directions. One is to increase the benefits of training, such as making training stronger support for performance growth, or making training cover more beneficiaries; second, reducing training For example, reduce lecturer fees, travel expenses, material costs, site fees, etc., reduce manpower input such as training management, or reduce indirect costs such as time input, that is, make training more effective. To sum it up, there are four words: more, fast, good, and economical.
  So, how can we achieve such an effect? Let’s take a company as an example to introduce strategies to increase the return on investment in training. The company is a diversified enterprise with commercial real estate, hotel, property, retail, entertainment and other industries under its umbrella, with an annual revenue of about 30 billion yuan and a staff of about 15,000. During the 2020 new crown pneumonia epidemic, the company’s performance was greatly impacted, and the training budget was cut by 2/3. Under such circumstances, the author instructed the company’s training department to optimize and adjust the training system from the following five aspects.
Training items worth training

  There is a saying in psychology: if you have a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail. Many companies often abuse or misuse training, which will lead to a waste of time, money and manpower. In fact, many trainings are optional. Training programs mainly improve organizational performance by improving personal abilities. Therefore, training is the correct, reasonable and possibly effective solution only when lack of skills or knowledge is the root cause of the gap between actual performance and expected performance. If the crux of the problem is not lack of skills, then there is no need to consider training.
Figure 1 Four types of training programs

  Based on the Boston matrix, the author divides training programs into four types according to strategic importance (things) and post importance (posts) (as shown in Figure 1). For enterprises, the focus of investment should be on star-type training projects, and those low-value and inefficient training projects should be eliminated.
  The effect of the skinny dog ​​project is very limited. It wastes the company’s resources and energy and should be stopped immediately. Problem-based projects refer to training projects that have not yet reached their full potential. If they have the potential to become a star project or a cash cow project, they should start to solve the problem, otherwise they should be stopped.
  Cash cow projects have high efficiency. They are not eye-catching, but they affect the overall efficiency of the enterprise, such as safety training, induction training and standard training. Just like the way of dealing with cash cow products or businesses, companies can neither leave them alone nor pay too much attention to such projects.
  Star-type projects refer to training projects with key strategic value and centered on business development, such as leadership enhancement, new product launches, new market penetration, etc. These training programs must be accompanied by top-notch faculty, creativity and investment.
  Therefore, the company took the first measure: reorganizing the company’s training system, cutting off some training programs that are not strong in support of strategy and business, and have low relevance to key positions, and focus on retaining the three levels of high school and grassroots. Cadre training camps, high-potential talents training camps, technical celebrities show, executive forums, and at the same time organize middle and high-level cadres to carry out special learning and seminars on business themes such as performance improvement, cost reduction and efficiency enhancement.
Training worthy employees

  Ramcharan believes that the biggest misunderstanding of cultivating talents is the excessive distribution of training resources, rather than focusing on a small number of real potential training objects. It is generally believed that the training speed of high-potential talents is more than two or three times higher than that of ordinary talents. Many companies have trained employees who should not be trained, resulting in a huge waste of resources. Because of this, the principle of Huawei’s talent development is the selection system rather than the training system.
  Therefore, before the training is carried out, we need to screen out those who are worth training. Kazuo Inamori divided people into three types: spontaneous, combustible, and non-combustible. Drawing on this theory, the author divides the students into four types according to their potential and performance (see Figure 2): Spontaneous people have good performance, high potential, strong self-driving power, and they can emit light without requiring others; flammable people Although people have poor performance, they have good potential, and they can be burned with a little training; combustible people have good performance but average potential and need others to ignite; non-combustible people have poor performance and potential, no matter how others influence it He can’t burn either.
  So, in the training program, we should focus on the spontaneous and flammable students. For the flammable students, we don’t need to pay too much attention to the non-combustible students. Especially for some training projects with limited learning resources, it is best to eliminate non-combustible trainees and not enter the training class through the screening of performance, ability and basic conditions. It is necessary to allow some people to learn first, and those who learn first will lead those who learn later, and finally realize common learning and growth.
Figure 2 Four types of students

Figure 3 Four types of training

  Therefore, the company took the second measure: screening out high-potential talents in key positions through talent inventory to enter training classes at all levels (top 15%), raising the threshold of training, which greatly enhanced the training enthusiasm of the trainees. I think there will be a sense of honor to be able to enter this training course. According to the observation of the training department, the trainees posted training photos in Moments during each intensive training, which at least doubled compared with previous years.

Form a reproducible method tool

  The learning form and learning results are also important factors that affect the benefits of training. According to the learning pyramid theory, training forms can be divided into passive learning (listening, reading, audiovisual, presentation) and active learning (discussion, practical exercises, teaching others), and the effect of active learning is significantly better than passive learning. At the same time, knowledge and skills are an intangible asset. If knowledge is only passed on by word of mouth, and skills are only taught by teachers and hands-on hands, the efficiency and effectiveness will be very poor. If learning results can be produced in the training project, the training effect can be made obvious, and the return on investment in training can be significantly improved. After all, it is still unknown whether many trainings have any effect, because the effect of training is very difficult to measure and evaluate. . According to the two dimensions of learning form and learning outcome, we can divide training into four types (see Figure 3):
  passive learning and training with no results have the worst learning effect, and the knowledge learned is basically forgotten. The use of passive learning and productive training usually involves assigning some homework, or letting students write articles and feelings, etc. The effect is relatively weak. Active learning and unproductive training include rotation exercises, participation in cross-departmental projects, and development centers. According to the “721” learning rule, 70% of a person’s ability improvement comes from work practice. But this form of gaining only personal actual combat experience, the benefit is relatively small.
  Training with active learning and fruitful output is the best. Formation of methods, tools, and systems that can be replicated on a large scale in training can deposit personal experience into organizational knowledge. Such training forms include action learning, seminars, etc. In training projects, try to use this type of training as much as possible.
  Therefore, the company adopts the third measure: a large number of learning forms such as action learning workshops, coaching and group projects are used, and business problems are combined with training. Each training class must have a solution output and will be applied to the actual situation. During business work, senior management participates in program review and landing support.
Focus on training operations and superior guidance

  The failure of many training programs is not due to the learning itself, but the lack of transformation of learning. It can be said that transformation of learning is the number one cause of failure of enterprise learning projects. Therefore, a very important point is the “learning and transformation atmosphere”, that is, the employee’s working environment, especially the influence of his superiors, which is far more important than the guidance of training. There was an experiment conducted abroad, and they found that as long as the superiors of the trainees actively cooperate with the training, any form of training can produce improvement, otherwise no matter what form will fail.
  At the same time, the operation of the training department in the training process is also very important. It can also promote the transformation of students and their superiors to value learning, which also has a greater impact on the training effect. According to these two dimensions, training can be divided into four types.
  Therefore, after the training is over, the trainees should not be allowed to study and consolidate on their own. The training department must do a good job in project operations, such as homework, exams, knowledge cards, etc., and at the same time allow direct supervisors to fully participate, especially for trainees. Counseling feedback, as well as providing opportunities for students to practice exercise, if the two are combined, it will greatly improve the efficiency of learning transformation.
  Therefore, the company adopted the fourth measure: In the training program, direct supervisors are required to participate in key links, such as letting the superiors review the students’ work, and letting them serve as judges in the final defense. On the one hand, let the superiors understand the learning situation of the subordinates, so that they can provide targeted guidance and feedback in the work, and the second is to enhance the learning enthusiasm of the subordinates. At the same time, within three months after the end of the training, the trainees are required to report their learning experience to their superiors once a month, and the superiors will give feedback, fill in the counseling records, and the training department will conduct random checks and archives.
Knowledge learning is all online

  In recent years, digital learning has become a trend in corporate training. It can greatly save training costs and time costs, thereby increasing the rate of return on investment. But not all training can be replaced by online learning, so online learning cannot be pushed blindly. According to whether the learning form is online or offline, and whether the lecturer is internal or external, training can be divided into four types.
  For management system learning topics, such as strategy, business model, business planning, etc., it is best to be carried out by internal personnel using action learning workshops. Of course, external facilitators can also be introduced to help promote, but the content is input , Comments and feedback are still the responsibility of internal executives or experts. For some business skills and thinking inspiring training, it is recommended to introduce external lecturers to use offline learning methods, and even need to go outside the company to visit and exchange.
  As for business knowledge training, it is more suitable to adopt scene-based micro-classes or live broadcast methods, which are developed by internal lecturers to achieve rapid update and iteration from PGC to UGC. The most important thing is that you can learn anytime and anywhere based on business needs, and make full use of fragmented time on the way to and from work, after dinner, on the sofa, and before going to bed, without delaying business work or affecting private life. Even if the number of students is increased, its marginal The cost will also be very low. At the same time, it can cover all employees, so that everyone can get corresponding training. For general knowledge learning, such as business skills, leadership, etc., it is also suitable for online learning, but there are already mature courses outside, which can be introduced into the learning platform through external procurement.
  Therefore, the company adopts the fifth measure: for knowledge learning such as product knowledge, business knowledge, management knowledge, etc., it is fully online by introducing digital learning platforms, which greatly reduces costs and saves training time. Management topics are passed externally. Purchasing, product knowledge, and business knowledge are developed by internal employees. For offline training, it is also managed through a digital learning platform, including demand research, registration, sign-in, examination, and evaluation, so that all training has data precipitation.
  Through the above five measures, the company’s overall training satisfaction has increased by 10 percentage points (from 84% to 94%, surveys at the end of the year) despite the substantial reduction in the training budget; the key talents delivered through the training courses include Management cadres have increased by 20% compared with the previous year; there are about 1/5 of the training programs, and the changes in performance data and employee behavior can be seen within 1 to 2 months after the training. Many executives were very repulsive of training before. After these adjustments, they not only did not reject training, but even liked training. Some executives encountered bottlenecks in business development and took the initiative to seek help from the training department. This shows that by working in the above five directions, the return on investment in corporate training can be greatly improved.
  Of course, only by accurately assessing the effectiveness of training can you clearly know your return on investment in training. The training effect evaluation is a big problem in training work. How to accurately evaluate the training effect is a problem that every company needs to think about carefully.