Improving Corporate Training
Intellectually, training is considered
vital to organizational success. If you asked senior managers
if they agreed with this view, they would say “yes.”
However, they do not generally treat the corporate training
group as a vital resource. When CEOs are looking for change
agents to help with crucial aspects of the business, the
corporate training group rarely comes to mind. CEOs typically
hire this kind of counsel from outside the organization,
usually without consulting the training team. In fact,
they do so in the belief that their own personnel could
not handle the task.
sadly, in many cases, they are right. They share a common
perception of the corporate training group as one that
just puts on a program or ships out a catalogue. Without
possessing the necessary information, accountability
and strategic planning linkages, corporate training
is rarely viewed as part of the solution to a critical
problem. Historically, this has led to a low respect
for training groups within the culture of many companies.
It is therefore not surprising that such groups are
not even on the radar when it comes to providing essential
This lack of relevance is of particular
concern as organizations struggle to maneuver through
the shifting sands of today’s business problems.
In a given company, each potential solution - reengineering,
employee empowerment, customer focus, core competencies
- finds some champions among the senior executives.
The organization typically focuses its efforts on this
potential solution until another potential solution
emerges, at which time new champions take on the new
idea and the previous idea begins to lose favor. The
company pays a heavy price for this “solution
of the month” approach to addressing organizational
difficulties, because frequently changing priorities
test employees’ faith in management’s competence.
More often than not, training departments
are kept busy helping their organizations implement
one or more types of these solutions, and pay little
attention to identifying and agreeing upon the problems.
There has always been a tendency to get too absorbed
with immediate requests, without first making sure the
activity will move the organization towards the future.
Almost no one wants to deal with the real business issues
that the training is supposed to be addressing.
Instead, the corporate training organization
plays “let’s pretend.” Let’s
pretend that everything is perfect. Let’s pretend
that this training will cure everything. Let’s
pretend that senior management is really behind this
effort. Let’s pretend that the organization will
really permit you to do all of the things that you will
learn in training.
This pretense can no longer be sustained.
Corporate training representatives are now recognizing
that they are no good to the organization unless they
help to improve business operations, and assist the
organization to reach its strategic objectives. In a
highly competitive market-place, it is unreasonable
for a company to approach training as a “community
service.” If training cannot be directly linked
to the objectives and strategies of the company, then
it should not be there.
Instead, corporate training must listen
to where the business wants to go, and determine what
needs to be in place on the human side. It should know
where the train is heading because it has partnered
with others to lay the tracks. It should not be waiting
for the train somewhere down the line; it should not
be one of the stops along the way!
This increased focus on the business significantly
changes the role of the corporate training organization.
Rather than designing and developing internal programs,
it should be much more involved in strategic discussions
around company direction, core competencies and the
development needs of key individuals. Companies are
now talking more about human capital and the importance
of developing employees as a means of becoming more
competitive. Training is being seen as a major strategic
initiative, and the organizations discussed in this
seminar have invested significant sums in preparing
the workforce for global competition.
This investment is far more vital now
than ever. Companies are becoming increasingly reliant
on organizational learning as a key competence to support
growth and development. “Learning,” in this
organizational context, describes the many opportunities
through which organizations acquire new knowledge and
experiences. Corporate training is taking on the mantle
of organizational development, an intricate process
in which individual beliefs and actions collectively
shape a broader organizational world view and business
The past history of many corporate training
organizations may lead some to feel that these groups
cannot change sufficiently to address such complex organizational
needs. All people (and that includes training people)
naturally resist anything that is different. Even though
everyone talks about “embracing change,”
people tend to seek out stability. There is a reluctance
to accept that the world has been transformed and what
worked before will not work now. Since the “new
way” is not as clear or as easily understood as
the “old way,” many people cling to the
old. Most of us would like to hold on to the times when
things were simple, and the answers (at least from where
we sit now) seemed within reach.
This seminar, however, looks at corporate
training groups that have, to a greater or lesser extent,
overcome this resistance to change. These are groups
that realize that corporate training is a service business,
and such services need to be delivered by more effective,
service-oriented people. They also understand that customer
expectations are increasing as to what constitutes excellent
service. Most important of all, they recognize that,
if they do not take the lead in protecting and nurturing
the corporate investment in human capital, they themselves
will not survive.
This seminar will provide informative answers to the
- How should a corporate training organization position
itself to become a strategic arm of the organization
- Which areas of training should be centralized,
and which should be left as the responsibility of
the individual business units?
- How should you heighten the feeling of employee
ownership for training, development and learning?
- How should your corporate training organization
help the company leverage its global strengths and/or
improve its global capabilities?
- What is the role of a “corporate university,”
and how does it differ from a traditional training
- What are the critical factors in running a successful
corporate training organization?
- What is the likely future of the corporate training