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.

Why? Because 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 business advice.

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 strategy.

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 following questions:

  • How should a corporate training organization position itself to become a strategic arm of the organization it serves?
  • 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 approach?
  • What are the critical factors in running a successful corporate training organization?
  • What is the likely future of the corporate training organization?
IBR Consulting Services Ltd.
5110 Meadfeild Road
West Vancouver, BC
Canada V7W 3G2

T: 604-926-9181
F: 604-926-9182

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