Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - March 8, 2017

Management Support and Training ROI


Any experienced trainer, whether on your own staff or hired externally, will tell you that management support has a huge effect on the ultimate impact of training on your institution's success. But what do we mean by "management support"? After all, management pays for the training of employees, and approves their use of time for training activities. Isn't that clearly "support"?

Well, it's a start. But I have seen different levels of management support over my decades in the training business, and I have come to assess "support" based on the expectations of the supervisors who send their direct reports to training events.

The first level is the most basic: "punch your ticket" support. That is, these managers believe that employees should spend a certain amount of their time getting trained. But they are not too fussy about what happens in that training, and they really don't think much about the impact of the training after it is completed.

In other words, "training" is just an activity on a checklist, to be checked off annually as it occurs. These managers don't get involved in helping their employees prepare for training, and they don't do much follow up after training. For them, training is more of an item for the employee's HR file than for their development. And it is safe to say that institutions where this approach is common are probably not getting a great return on their investment in training.

At the next level, managers take a more specific interest in employee training. They have higher expectations from training, namely, "a change in employee behavior."

That is, they invest in training in the hope that employees will work differently, more effectively or more efficiently, when they return from training. These managers are much more likely to have conversations with training participants about what they learned, about questions the training might have raised, about how they apply lessons learned.

Those conversations do not have to take up a lot of time. But they can significantly boost the ROI from training for the organization.

Some forward-thinking managers go a step further. They expect training to have an impact on work practices beyond the individual trainee. You could say that they look at training as an opportunity for "positive disruption" of current work habits among the entire team.

These managers invite recent training participants to share new ideas and perspectives. Perhaps they ask employees to report on their training at a staff meeting. Or maybe the employee and manager have a conversation aimed at discovering potential changes in current practices that are worthy of consideration.

These are the managers who leverage their training investment for a maximum return. Time spent in training helps not only the employee who attends the event, but other members of the team. And by showing they value the recommendations and observations of their staff, they boost morale and strengthen the team as a whole.

You can just "punch your training ticket" if you want. Or you can invest a little more time and personal attention in your employees' learning activities. If you do, the benefits to the institution of investing in training will be multiplied many times.