Among business leaders worldwide, two heavy-weight trends seem to operate that, at first glance, are doomed to end up on a collision course sooner rather than later. The first one has to do with the assumption, stronger than ever in the post-crisis atmosphere of cutting costs, that investment in raising the qualifications of the staff is lower on the priority list than more urgent expenditures that guarantee immediate, tangible results. Learning and development within organizations are often seen as secondary to their effective operation and fall victim to companies' austerity measures first. The other trend, also accentuated by trying conditions and a much more competitive market, is that the pressure for improved crisis resistance and post-crisis attainment grows from various stakeholders. These contradictory demands, achieving more with less, being stripped of key development tools, may indeed not be totally reconcilable, but high-quality corporate training has the potential to take them off a collision course.
All too often, resources and hopes are pinned on training programs that are badly designed, badly delivered or plainly out of touch with the company needs, present and future. This translates into limited influence on employees and the organization, leaving a bad aftertaste of squandered time and money, while it is the opposite that is typically intended. Bringing some educational effort into a corporation is meant to energize, enhance and reposition it in such a way that it gains, regains or edges closer toward a competitive advantage. Whenever this condition is unfulfilled and other desired goals are not reached, the impact is negative and the considerable expenditure that goes into organizing corporate training is utterly unjustified. However, when the impact on the organization is positive, more often than not it has the potential to make the difference in a business race that is increasingly too close to call.
One question persists: Is there any way to ensure the impact? Anyone familiar with doing business could say there is never a guarantee for a process as complex as this, but heeding a number of precautions should maximize training success and satisfaction. For the organization needing the training, it is necessary to clearly define which areas are in need of improvement or rearrangement. It is imperative to set expectations, realistic and verifiable, that include final outcomes of intended educational efforts. Finally, as obvious as it may seem, careful selection of participants that are likely to maximize impact and minimize waste or distraction is of utmost importance. On the part of educational organizations, it goes without saying, there is a need for top experts in their fields who can bring outstanding insights to the table and direct the process towards desired outcomes. Ideally, apart from sharing their expertise, strong-impact educators should rely on tested learning principles that facilitate and optimize knowledge acquisition, such as focusing on individuals or creatively exploiting the learning environment.
Cutting costs on corporate training that is created and delivered with care for strong impact might be little more than just cutting corners, which is bound to compromise larger company goals.