A lot of problems at the workplace are being solved with learning and training, however, it doesn't always work. Why is that? What is the gap that prevents training from meeting the required goals? Let's perform a gap analysis.
Before every project it is vital that we ask this slightly uncomfortable question to the client:
Why aren't your learners already doing what you want them to do?
The gap can be split in thee categories that we'll discover further.
1. Knowledge and skills: They aren't doing it because they don't know about it.
Lack of training
It's never only lack of training. Often, it's a combination but there are situations where you really don't know how to do your work right. Sometimes it can be lack of training in an adjacent skill. For example, people aren't doing reports properly because they aren't very good with computers. You gave them computers, you taught them how to fill out those reports but then you look at them closely and find that some people doing these types of jobs are not very good at copying and pasting or switching languages or adding images or taking pictures. It is important to recognise it is a different trait, but it's still training.
Not fitting the job
Hiring people that are not right for the job. And that might not be only about the knowledge or skills, it can also be general, such as self-motivation, communication skills, personality traits. Training will not stick if somebody is an introvert and you are trying to make them a very good salesperson or a public speaker. In this case the gap is so big that no training will bridge it - it's a long term problem that needs a different solution.
Conflicting job requirements
A great example of this is working as cabin crew - their KPI is now the amount of lottery tickets or cans of beer, of chocolate, perfume you sell. They were hired to serve customers with a one main job requirement – onboard safety. Now it turns out they have to sell. You are trying to train them for one role but their actual duties are different. It is crucial to recognise that it's not about their motivation - they want to but it may be a role that they are not suited to. Another great example - IT guys. You hire someone to be a software developer or engineer and then it turns out that they need to have people skills because they will be meeting customers or participating in meetings.
2. Resources and tools: They aren't doing it because they physically can't.
Lack of time
No amount of training will fix that. Compliance processes take a lot of time, so people skip them because they have other things to do. Salespeople are pressured into upselling, cross-selling but if the flow of customers is enormous, they will just be skipping those steps. This can mainly be noticed in extra trainings which aren't contributing directly to their main role. And even some things as important as tailgating, that has even become a phenomenon - when you work in a large office and everyone has a key card to beep themselves into the building in and out. Sometimes one person beeps and then five people just go in creating a huge security risk. You can train people, you can put the posters everywhere, but it simply will not work if everyone has to be there at eight o'clock and you have two doors.
Often it is a lack of resources, not a training solution. Why aren't they doing what we want them to do - because the tools that they have are wrong/outdated/not compatible. For example, they write by hand and, human error plays a part, they make mistakes. Or most often it's an inadequate technology problem, because if the system is confusing, if the interface of the system is so unclear that you have to train on it, why don't you improve the interface of the system, why don't you supplement it with tool tips and validations - just self-explanatory. For example, did you have to complete a training on how to use Facebook? Of course not, it's kind of intuitive. Of course, we are a bit exaggerating here but still, a lot of the systems are just too difficult to understand.
You can train people on something, with them not following-up afterwards and you find out that it is actually their bosses that are sabotaging the learning process, because they don't care about compliance - they just care about results. Here maybe it can be solved by training, but you have to train managers first, not the subordinates.
3. Motivation and culture: They aren't doing it because they don’t see the point.
KPIs and salaries
If training is not linked to KPIs, why would they do extra work when they are not going to get paid for it? For example, why should they take training on giving feedback if they're paid only based on the quantitative measures - how much they sell. The training has to be relevant - make them understand how this affects their daily job.
Compliance gets derailed by incorrect KPIs all the time because all compliance or all safety training is essentially counterproductive. It slows you down. Of course, we are not saying that compliance is in any way bad – that’s something you have to do. However, you have to be aware of the inconveniences it can bring to learners. Think of ways to sell the training.
Customer comes first?
A lot of companies (INTEA included) have gone though strategic cultural changes. For example, the company has always been strongly customer-centric giving out three times the value that they're asked for, and then at some point due to profit margin, a new notion switches the gear - the company has to stop giving out things for free. The company has to turn a profit, or it won’t be around for very long. Then, of course, there is a clash with the culture because “this is not us”. We want the customers to be happy and forget the profit margins, honestly. But a change has to come - there are KPIs, measure tools introduced to put company's interests first. And a common mistake is to start training employees on these new requirements without making an effort to talk about culture change and why it matters to all of them.
Knowledge, resources, and motivation are all intertwined, they do not simply add to a sum total, but are multiplied by each other. If one of them is a low number or zero, the total sum or the whole product of multiplication is zero. This is why the gap analysis is crucial. If you're missing something in motivation or in resources or in job requirements, you're essentially multiplying everything else by zero and you can't just get there by throwing more resources to the other sector. You are still multiplying this by zero until you recognise that the gap is in a different place.
How to avoid a zero?
The earlier you start asking that question, the easier your life will be. Transition from your learning department to being on the board, being a chief learning officer personally or having the learning department getting people invited to big meetings.
Don't just look at that again lightly. Try and see a bigger picture, ask all the though questions - is this training really going to solve the problem? It's a story of many cases when we came into a meeting with the customer and they were asking for a customer service training. And we asked them what have you done before and they would explain they have had such a great course but it didn't work. We continue talking and talking until we figure out that, yes, the courses are great but resources and motivations were not solved so the result was still a zero. Zero times zero times thousand is still a zero.
Take a stand, otherwise you're setting yourself up for disaster. A year later when the situation hasn't changed, or it has worsened despite the amount of training you have provided questions will be asked of you, so set those expectations. Also, challenge your clients. If you do an in-depth gap analysis you might find out that many of those planned trainings might be solved with a different, more efficient solution.
Check out this video about gap analysis this blog post is based on: