Is Training Worth the Investment?
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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We are looking at budgets for next year. We’re ahead of revenue goals in most of our major divisions, but we keep hearing negative feedback from clients on the “style” and approach of our sales force. It’s a disconnection for me – our numbers are good, but our approach isn’t? Most of my colleagues are advocating for extensive training across the organization. We would have to run about 800 people through a program, and early numbers show me this is a huge expense on our budget. I went through a lot of training in my past life. I believed I had learned something important from each one. But can I attribute my success to the training I received? No. I’m not sure what the answer actually is, but I would like your view on whether this investment is going to make sense for us.
I have many questions I want to ask! How did you come by this feedback from your clients? Are the revenue numbers across the board, or are they connected to only one area or a handful of salespeople? Have you done any training in the past? Is the only goal of training to help your team get a higher satisfaction rating from your clients?
We provide training in our firm, and I am a college professor so I am a fan of “learning” in many different forms. That said, I am not a fan of the traditional style of training whereby companies spend incredible amounts of money to bring people into a room to hear largely “out of the box” material, and then the management team believes their investment was well worth the time and money!
Training can be very useful but only when:
- There is customization to ensure the material is geared to the firm and to the audience
- The material is process-driven and actionable – people learning something new need to have some sort of framework within which to learn it and apply it to their daily life
- People are actively engaged in the training – it isn’t just delivering the material, but working with it as well
- Attention is paid to behavioral style – you would not ask someone who is detail-oriented to learn in the same way as someone who is highly entrepreneurial
- There is a reinforcement component built in
- Surveys are done and the feedback is taken into consideration for future material
- There is manager involvement and support
I think first you want to ascertain who really needs to learn something new, what exactly it is that they need to learn, how you will measure what has been learned and how you will ensure reinforcement and ongoing support. If these things are not in place, I would recommend against spending a lot of money at this point to train your staff.