95%+ of all training is wasted, and as Pareto would have predicted, 80% of the waste comes from 20% of the causes.

Just in case you think the call to stop wasting your training budget applies to only the bottom end of the training spectrum, it does not. Near total waste occurs in “the best” organisations and in the worst.

Here are just three of the factors that cause training budgets to be wasted.

1. Absent or unclear training objectives.

Who, you might ask, sets out to provide training without having objectives? Almost no-one. Then why raise this point? Because almost no-one sets effective objectives.

Poor objectives = poor outcomes = part or fully wasted training budgets

When “off the mark” objectives are set everything else that follows will be wrong. What to do when traininghas yet again failed to deliver the required outcomes?

Take a look at the written objectives that were set. Then take a look at the sub-objectives that have been drawn from the main objectives. After one reading you will know exactly why the training budget has been wasted.

How can that happen as often as it does? Surely most people are using SMART to set their training objectives. Surely!

Yes, they are, and therein lies the problem. Most people use SMART as their method to set training objectives. SMART is a beginners introduction to a tiny number of the objective-setting factors that should be considered.

Which means that any training programmes using SMART are almost certain to get off to a failing start.

SMART is neither complete, nor fit for purpose. In fact, if you were to sit an exam on the factors that need to be considered to set effective objectives and you used SMART as your answer you would miss the majority of what needs to be considered. Failure in theory would, unsurprisingly, match failure to deliver results. 

Effective training requires exceptional objective setting, advanced objective setting, and, readily reveals when it is absent. 

Advanced objective setting, can be quickly learned and typically pays for itself on the first use, and is one of the factors needed to stop wasting your training budget.

2. Expectations are self-fulfilling – in both directions

If you were speaking with the Head of Training for a major global company and heard that person make the following comment, what would be you prediction of the effectiveness of any training undertaken?

“They [executives] won’t even do the basics, so there is no point in training them in advanced objective setting techniques.”

The book is closed on all bets! Of course, with such low expectations, there is zero possibility of anything other than a wasted budget, with that specific training need and probably all others, too.

Your reaction to the statement can be very self-instructive. If you read the quote and your heart sank, you are probably among the most effective leaders around. Why?

All effective leaders know that expectations are self-fulfilling. Capable leaders know why and how to constructively address and transform staff with low expectations. The best leaders have learned how to create and sustain high expectations.

For those not familiar with the techniques, fortunately, the performance enhancement methods to create an environment of high expectations can be learned quickly, and, yes you’ve guessed it, is one of the factors necessary to stop wasting your training budget.

3. Politics ahead of performance wastes training budgets.

Many organisations have their potential impaired by internal politics. HR/Training functions, especially the under-performing ones, find themselves in a downwardly spiraling vicious political cycle.
To illustrate: if the HR/Training function brings in a supplier whose level of understanding and training effectiveness are massively superior to that of the function, the staff are presented with a very unwelcome personal and political problem.
How are they going to look when the CEO, or C-X-O compares them to the highly effective supplier? Not good.
To avoid that unwelcome but entirely justified comparison, many HR/Training functions ensure that highly effective suppliers are NOT put in front of any senior executive, and most definitely, NEVER in front of the CEO.

Of course, in the 5% organisations where the training budget delivers results, the exact opposite is usually the case: providers who are more skilled and knowledgeable are the ONLY ones asked to serve. If they are more effective than the HR/Training function they have no reason to be there! Excellent suppliers set the new benchmark, and are displayed proudly to the CEO by the HR/Training function: “Look who we found, look at what we can now achieve!”

If your organisation is one of the many that finds talent to be a political threat, how can you overcome the problem? How can you change a negative and destructive political culture into one that seeks and embraces excellence, welcomes approaches that deliver better results? Fortunately that is known, and you can learn it quickly, if, you want to stop wasting your training budget.

We have covered only three factors that waste training budgets. As you can image, there are many more. Even if you address the three above you will prevent much of your training budget from being wasted, and secure an advantage over your competitors.
Imagine what you could achieve if you addressed all the factors that waste your training budget. Imagine if your training budget went from your biggest losses to your greatest gain!

To Stop Wasting Your Training Budget you can contact Dr Nigel MacLennan here.