Aligning Training with Company Goals

Before you plan, design, or update training programs, get back to square one, adopt what Zen practitioners might call “a beginner’s mind,” and ask some basic questions.

If you are investing money in training, it makes sense to teach your workforce to perform the tasks that align with your most important current priorities. 

After all, why would you only train employees to do things that don’t support your current objectives? Yet many companies do exactly that…

  • A retailer is losing customers and needs to turn that situation around. It currently is spending more than 90 percent of its training budget teaching its employees to use its cash registers and run other systems. Why doesn’t that company deliver training to address its biggest current challenge? “We keep using our old materials because we already have them,” a company exec says. May I ask you, how much sense does that make?
  • A car dealership wants to get more of its car-buying customers to come back to use its service department. (Approximately 60 percent of customers who purchase cars there never come back for service.) But that dealership currently is only training its service personnel to use new service equipment, not to recruit and retain customers. Why? “Well, tech training is the only kind of training we get from our brand,” the owner of the dealership says. Again, may I ask, how much sense does that make?

Some Simple Analogies

Those companies, and many others, are engaging in behavior that can be represented by these analogies:

  • If your car’s tire is flat, why would you try to fix it by checking the coolant level or changing the oil? 
  • If you have a headache, why would you try to cure it by putting an ice pack on your knee? 
  • If your lawn needs mowing, why would you water it? That will only make it grow higher and make it harder to cut. 

Yet the fact is, many businesses continue to invest in training that teaches secondary skills, or even skills that are currently unimportant.

Before you plan, design, or update training programs, why not get back to square one, adopt what Zen practitioners might call “a beginner’s mind,” and ask some very basic questions such as these:

“What are our most important priorities right now?” Are you reinventing your franchise or retail brand? Getting ready to launch an exciting new service? Trying to win new clients in a new part of the country? You know what your most important priorities are, because you are holding meetings about them, talking to people about them, and maybe even dreaming about them. So…are you using training to move you toward them? If not, consider setting aside your current training programs for a while at least, until you need them again. 

“What are the most important skills that will support those big goals?” Apply what is known as the DACUM (“Develop a Curriculum”) approach to define the skills you should teach—those that will support your most important goals. In this process, talk to people who are already working through the ranks of your organization; ask them what they do, how they do it, what their current frustrations are, and more. As you go through this step, you could even learn that for the time being, you do not even need training. (Perhaps you should suspend it while your accountants and analysts crunch numbers to help you decide whether you should buy another company.) But again, why spend money on training that doesn’t move you toward your biggest priority.

“What are the true costs of continuing to use training that doesn’t support our most pressing goals?” Although it is tempting to think, “We just can’t spend the money right now to develop new training,” that kind of thinking actually could be costing you money. After all, are you really saving money by continuing to deliver the wrong training programs? If you spent even a small amount of money to develop training that truly supports your goals, you could realize an immense ROI that far exceeds the cost.

But one thing is certain. Spending money to train people to do the wrong things is a lose/lose proposition. I hope these ideas will help you center your training on the right things…and succeed!

Cordell Riley is partner and president of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, NC. After his time in college and the military, Riley launched his career at Driven Brands, the owner of Meineke and Maaco. During his 20 years there, he rose through the ranks with increasing levels of responsibility for Operations and Training. He then founded Tortal Training in 2000. A recognized training expert with extensive experience in the franchising sectors, Riley has spent more than 20 years helping thousands of companies achieve outstanding success through training. He is a keynote speaker at conferences and company seminars nationwide. Follow @TortalTraining.

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