Personal Site of Bill Hall

What Execs Are Saying About T&D Needs


This is common: End of year slow-down at work. It is a wonderful time for me to clean-up, think, reach-out, and get caught up on the thousands of things that don't get done during the year. For those that have never run a training program, let me share a little insight: It is far more work than it looks like. As a result, our office looks like a war zone: Computers need updating with a good month of organization usually needs to happen. Thus, this is a great time of the season.

During this time is usually when I reach out to executives inside large companies to catch up, listen to trends, and get a pulse on what they're thinking for the following year. This year, more than ever, I am hearing a very consistent theme:

Training Needs To Apply Directly To Business Outcomes

I don't think it's necessarily fair, but for the most part, execs think that T&D professionals are still very focused on T&D 'best practices'. They talk about things like the Kirkpatrick and other models and methods that impress other T&D managers. As a past non T&D executive, I can tell you from experience that this usually frustrates executives. I used to have an understanding that the T&D manager is doing his/her job, but there were time where I just wanted to simplify the discussion.

2017 seems very uncertain for executives. Uncertainty about trade relations, interest rates, and other geopolitical corporate influences has managers a bit on edge. The smart ones are still devoted to training, but they want any and all management training content to demonstrate its impact on profitability.

Let's be clear here: I am NOT talking training making the business more profitable (AKA: ROI), I am talking about the need for the training topic to demonstrate an impact on the bottom line. For example: How utilizing a leadership competency model can make a business more profitable. Basically the 'why this is important' of the training.

The basics of what executives seem to be looking for are: More business acumen, greater understanding of the business importance, and active hands-on learning. This is a pretty tall (and probably expensive) order, but as a past executive, I have to say that it does feel familiar. Maybe this has been the case for many years and nothing has changed. But I do believe with the future uncertainty within the business climate, I can understand why managers feel this way.

So, this is what I'm hearing from executives within large companies: More Applied Learning That Demonstrates The Positive Impact on Corporate Earnings. Let's see what happens.