Wednesday, September 22, 2010


In today’s business climate everyone is looking for an edge to validate business efficiency and productivity. That search might be in any of the areas of our product or service development, production, sales/marketing or fulfillment. So what do we rely on in this era of better efficiencies? Frankly we look at just about everything… from materials or product costs to quality initiatives, and from product demand projections to logistics streamlining for purchase and delivery. But our highest costs are most frequently associated with our people and where they perform all or part of the product or service we offer.

So how is that managed? The critical performance elements for all of our companies is how do we maintain a smooth running operation that is both effective and consistent. The ability to maintain a tactical edge is all about having a strategy that allows us to maintain our value offering and also to improve. That ability to share and communicate what works best and what doesn’t work is paramount to a reliable business operation. It is vital to communicate and share best practices to both new employees and to the seasoned team.

Companies have begun to examine and appreciate the value of not only having an effective Training Program for educating new employees about the basics but also to help communicate new process improvement to all members of our existing team.

Good training regimes used to be limited to the mechanical production lines or repetitive operations where processes and procedures were obvious. The era of cycle time improvement and quality initiatives has taken it to a new level. Now it might also include sales, marketing, advertising, customer service and even product development. More importantly we have found out that identifying and communicating change initiatives or insuring deployment of new best practices requires a system which allows this to happen in an interactive way.

In the last 30 years “Training Methodology” has come under the microscope of best practices as well. We not only need the training to be effective but we quickly found that there must also be a way to measure what it is we are doing, how effectively we are doing it and ultimate to understand why it continues to be a good idea.

The original “Four Levels” of Training Evaluation as early 1975 by people like Donald Kirkpatrick have become a staple for what needs to be measured in training on a regular basis. So on the front-end the training needs 1) a reactive participation and 2) a learning environment, then followed by 3) an actual application of new job process and hopefully 4) a realized new business impact. But that entire training process is only effective if someone can show management (the stakeholders) what ROI was actually received by the programs. Thus the ideas of Phillips and Stone (in 2006) to carefully evaluate, quantify and measure the overall impact throughout the process ,as well as a tangible ROI at the end, becomes critical to measuring success in an effective training deployment.

I was fortunate to be involved in analyzing the effectiveness of annual training programs and it requires a commitment to involve people from the top down in understanding the real value to this as a vital continuous improvement tool and not only as a front-end learning system. There needs to be methodology in place for contributions to a knowledge management library and also the ability to share that “learning information” effectively with all of your employees. It’s crucial to set up base metrics, measure the current state of company, identify the current areas of need, develop a plan for addressing the most pressing areas, implement the training plan and then measure the results from tangible to intangible. It is ultimately critical to engage your whole business team in the training process.

Let’s talk if you are struggling with any issue of training or change management or process improvement because there is methodology to insure both implementation strategies and develop measurable effectiveness.

The Performance Detective

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