The Role of Instructor-Led Training
According to a recent annual review from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), business leaders continue to invest heavily in training and learning. ASTD estimates annual spending on employee learning and development among U.S. organizations to exceed $134 billion, despite the most difficult economic conditions in decades. “While many organizations were forced to cut expenses in all areas of the business, including training and development, most maintained a strong financial commitment to employee training.”
Surprisingly, for many people, the number of formal learning hours through technology-based methods is decreasing after years of rapid growth. At the same time, instructor-led, real-time learning events are increasing—currently, instructor-led learning events account for almost two-thirds of total learning hours. While e-learning trends have enriched and enhanced training and development experiences in most organizations, the demand for instructor-led training continues to grow. Why? Because culture-shifts, performance-turnarounds, and high impact interventions, in general, are most effectively accomplished through instructor-led, real-time training and learning events. The real power of training lies in the leadership provided by instructors, facilitators, and change agents, who know how to help individuals and organizations reach new heights. The right training at the right time, implemented in the right way, can make all the difference.
Our experience with hundreds of clients tells us that instructor-led, real-time training is not only vital, it is also increasingly important as organizations strive to become more agile, flexible, and change-ready. Whether you’re trying to increase revenue and profitability, reduce costs, or implement key initiatives in today’s business environment, individuals and organizations are constantly being asked to think and act differently to deal with changing circumstances—and that usually requires training delivered by instructors who know how to lead learning, facilitate change, and shift organizational cultures.
For example, consider the need to constantly link training initiatives to expected results. We recently worked with a grocery store chain that was implementing a region-wide training program designed to more fully engage customers. Every store in the region gave the program high marks, praising the training as the best they had ever received. Those responsible for implementing the training celebrated the fact that almost 100 percent of the people scheduled for training received it on time and within budget. What’s more, they also took great pride in the fact that the training effort had brought an initial increase in sales of about $5 million to the region. However, follow-up studies revealed that only about 15 percent of the people who underwent the training were actually using what they learned. Not surprisingly, the expected result of an additional $25 million in sales never materialized. After debriefing the project, we helped the implementation team realize that they had failed to link the training to the ongoing performance required to achieve the expected result of continued sales growth. Making sure everyone got trained was obviously not enough. The organization also had to ensure that everyone who went through the training actually applied it to their daily work—i.e., getting people to interact with customers and creating the necessary engagement to capture an additional $25 million in sales revenue within the next nine months. We helped the grocery chain implement a new round of instructor-led training that incorporated pre-training preparation and post training follow-up by the immediate supervisor of each employee. Every person who began the training did so with the belief that their store manager expected immediate application and follow-through. Nine months later, sales in the region had increased by over $30 million.
Effective, instructor-led training is an essential, and increasingly important, intervention tool for every organization in meeting today’s ever-changing market demands.