Learning unlocks all doors

Newsletter Issue 24 : April 1, 2009- April 30, 2009





upside down

Sanjeev K. Dhawan

We are a training organisation.

We have opportunity to interact with all levels of corporate ladder.

These interactions have provided me with an amazing observation based on facts that I wish to share with you.

I wish to clarify upfront that you may not like it.

Generally the training & development initiatives in business organisations (where there is a focus & structure for such initiatives) follow the following process.

One of the important measures for training & development function is average training man-hours/ man-days per unit time.

This measure existed in the early eighties in some progressive Indian business organisations when training & development was not recognised as necessary. It became popular with the advent of ISO 9000 in 1987 where people development was a focus & to satisfy the auditors, this convenient measure was adopted.

 Generally HR/ training function would be considered to have done an excellent job on achieving the average training man-hours target (man-days for fortunate organisations).

The average measures hide more than they communicate.

A study on your organisations data (detailed below the average) will through up some interesting facts.

The training man-hours/ man-days reduce as you go up the hierarchy.

This is an open secret & is not talked about for obvious reasons.

Should it be like this?

Let us look at this question from different perspectives.

Who needs more training?

The higher up the hierarchy you go, the more responsibilities you need to shoulder. People at positions of higher responsibilities need to more worldly-wise (more in sync with what is happening).

At the top you are dealing with contradictions (example: balancing the effectiveness & the cost).

If this level is not re-energising regularly, not drinking the newer knowledge beverages; they would become the brakes rather than the engines to the growth of the organisation.

Common sense says that people who need to guide & teach others must spend more time learning than those who need to follow.

What is the ratio of training man-hours of top to training man-hours at bottom in your organisation?

What training is needed at the top?

The answer is very simple, the costly one.

And for the bottom of the pyramid, the cheapest that you can find (since the numbers are more).

As you go up, you spend majority of your time in non-routine matters compared to routine matters.

Because you need to spend more of your time understanding, analysing, strategising & planning. 

At lower levels, the routine tasks take up majority of the time.

People at the bottom of the pyramid need more of skills training to master the routine.

People at the top need more of behavioural & creative stimulation to manage the contradictions.

Ratio of soft (behavioural/ creativity/ attitude) to skill training should be higher at the top & should taper down to bottom.

How do ratio of soft (behavioural/ creativity/ attitude) to skill training at the top & at the bottom compare in your organisation?

Where do you get better ROI?

ROI in training is a debatable issue.

The management wants & demands accountability.

Look at the poor T&D managers.

ROI comes from right implementation. They do not have a direct role in here.

Implementation becomes easy when what one learns, is implemented immediately.

If one is forced to learn s/he will resist the implementation (exactly opposite to what is required).

Let us imagine the following hypothetical situation.

Only trainings that are a part of the project plan are scheduled in the training calendar.

Is it difficult to calculate ROI?

Will there be any issues with ROI?

The farther we go away from this situation, the linkage with ROI & training initiatives get blurred.

What %age of your training plan is sourced out of project plans?

Cost is major deterrent in providing good training?

Is it?

With direct linkage to work, the ROI generated will make the cost debate redundant.

In one organisation, we were tasked to train employees for Kaizen to boost productivity.

The condition was that in the month to follow the organisation will facilitate the implementation.

The results were as follows.

Cost = less than a Lac.

Savings = More than two crore on perpetual basis (actual data which was far higher is not divulged for sake of probity)

Do we need to calculate ROI?

Is cost important?

A properly planned training initiative will make the cost redundant.

It also affords the organisation the best of training resources.

I was arguing these points in one of my marketing visits to a corporate and this is what happened.

“What you are saying may be right. But this will put the whole cart upside down.”

I submitted: “No sir, this will put the cart right side up.”