Today, many industries spend billions of dollars on training and development (T&D) to achieve better quality service and ultimately, higher customer satisfaction. T&D affects job satisfaction and organisational commitment (Lam and Zhang, 2003; Pratten, 2003), which in turn affects staff retention and satisfaction. Hotels that provide inadequate training exacerbate staff turnover (Lashley and Best, 2002) and jeopardize quality standards and proﬁt.
These are the things we are mostly aware of, however there is another side to this story.
LinkedIn’s first annual Workplace Learning Report reveals that 90% of business leaders believe training programs are key to closing skill gaps. However, only 8% of CEOs in the report said they saw the business impact of T&D programs. Even fewer – just 4% – saw a clear return on investment.
The above numbers are shocking and have led us to consider the following question: What are the reasons behind such grim statistics?
There are two main reasons for these poor results:
- Training and development departments are in bad shape. Our learning model is broken. It has had very little advancement in the last twenty years, so it is unable to meet the challenges of today.
- Generally speaking, CEOs and business leaders might not be aware of how to use and benefit from training and development as a performance management tool and a competitive advantage.
I believe, with a revolutionist spirit and some knowledge of theory, it is possible to make training work for us. Below are my three tips for successful training for the CEOs and managers.
ONE: Training is not always the answer; explore more.
On many instances, I have witnessed senior managers preferring shortcuts and jumping to conclusions when it comes to making training-related decisions.
This behaviour skips the first and most important step of the training process: training needs analysis. Most of the time, when a senior leader approaches with a request, the training team is reluctant to question that request. Knowing that, 85% of all training requests turn out to be solvable without training (ATD-Association for Talent Development research). T&D professionals must act like a consultant by guiding and coaching the senior leader throughout the training needs analysis process to find out the root cause of the problem.
On the other hand, CEOs and managers must accept the guidance offer, listen actively and be ‘coachable’.
TWO: Remember: One size does not fit all
Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, developed the Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1986. Gardner believes that intelligence, the way it has traditionally been understood (logically, as with IQ tests), does not explain the wide variety of human abilities. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that we excel with eight types of intelligence.
- Word smart (linguistic intelligence);
- Logic smart (logical-mathematical intelligence);
- Picture smart (spatial intelligence);
- Music smart (musical intelligence);
- Self smart (intrapersonal intelligence);
- Body smart (bodily-kinesthetic intelligence);
- People smart (interpersonal intelligence);
- Nature smart (naturalist intelligence).
Since people have different intelligences, they also have different learning preferences. I personally like to learn from books and from my mentors, whereas, I don’t enjoy e-learning tools and cannot learn from them. On the contrary, I personally know many people who do not like reading books, but enjoy e-learning programs.
It is not surprising to hear that body smart and nature smart participants would be very bored and would not be successful in a classroom setting, whilst self-smart and logic-smart participants would not feel comfortable and be productive in a forced group-work.
Using multiple learning tools in the learning process and empowering the participants to design their own learning experiences using their preferred learning tools, would be an effective approach.
THREE: Design learning processes, not events
For years, we focused on the event model, where we have a training event and then we send everyone back to work. Today we know that this approach is not likely to work, certainly not for complex skills and long-term knowledge retention.
A German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, in 1885, described the decrease in ability of the brain to retain information over time using Ebbinghaus Learning Curve. The theory is that humans start losing the memory of learned knowledge over time, in a matter of days or weeks, unless the learned knowledge is consciously reviewed. Therefore, instead of one-shot training events, we need to design long-term learning processes, in which learners are in the drivers’ seat for their own learning.
In the world of hospitality and tourism, where the quality of service is directly correlated to employee knowledge, skills and attitudes, T&D is an effective tool to increase company performance. However, I believe, this statement would be correct only if training and development is handled with the right strategy.
Kyle Akyol, academic manager for hospitality and tourism programs at Toronto School of Management (TSoM)