Sticky Notes: The Training Investment Paradox

Tthe more you train people nowadays, the more likely they are to leave…with your training investment in hand.

One question business leaders are still asking: “How are we going to get a return on our training investment in people who don’t stay for the long haul?” The question you should be asking: “How are we going to change our approach to training so our investment is not so vulnerable?”

You have to train your employees. But the more you train people, the more valuable they are, and, therefore, the more options they have in the free market for talent. In other words, the more you train people nowadays, the more likely they are to leave…with your training investment in hand. This frustrating reality is what I call “the training investment paradox.”

What are the answers to this paradox?

  • Get people into meaningful roles as quickly as possible after they walk through the door. That might require unbundling the elements of more complex existing roles and creating new, more narrow roles that people can learn and assume in short order. As a person gets up to speed on each set of tasks and begins performing them ably, keep adding new responsibilities, training the person in stages for each new bundle of work. Every new bundle of work is like a proving ground, which enables him or her to earn more responsibility right away.
  • Make every employee a knowledge worker. Knowledge work is not about what you do, but how you do whatever it is you do. If you leverage skill and knowledge in your work to do a better job, you are a knowledge worker.
  • Train people one mission at a time. Realign training to fit with the new fluid realities of work. The pragmatic answer is training in short-term stages that track directly with adjustments in day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Make more training available just in time. People learn best when they have a skill or knowledge gap that is preventing them from achieving a tangible result. That means building and supporting easy-to-access knowledge assets—repositories of all the knowledge that passes through the organization.
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