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By Kimberly Cunningham, September 18th, 2013

After the broad overview of SuccessFactors from last week, lets dive into a little more in depth question posed by AltaFlux's very own SuccessFactors LMS implementer, Kimberly Cunningham: Why should you pause before approving an employee’s training?

Many companies spend enormous amounts of money each year on employee training, but have never measured the return on the investment (ROI). In other words, how does this training yield more profit and ensure company success?

There are a number of reasons managers approve their employee’s training. For example: “I was given a training budget and I can use it as I please” or “This is my star employee, they would not ask for it, unless it was truly needed”. So we click the “Approve” button and voila our employee is now happy. We have now increased our employee satisfaction survey ratings and we can also have it reflect on our Learning Management System training completion report. Oh wait! The employee also has something they can now add to their performance evaluation at the end of the year. This is all good stuff, but again, how do we know this is making our company more successful?

Often I feel Managers cannot answer this question. I speak from personal experience. In the past, one of my job responsibilities was to contact an employee’s Manager, 3 months after they took a course. I would conduct a Level 3 training evaluation (Kirkpatrick's Evaluation). My goal was to understand, how this training affected their employee performance. I also wanted to know how they applied what they learned in class to their current position. I also needed to understand was this training for a new product roll out or a change within their department that would affect the day to day operation? Many times the answer I received was, “I have so many employees and I am not sure”. The Manager would recommend contacting the employee directly to get the answers.

Many of you reading this might say, that could be due to lack of management skills or time management; nevertheless, the bottom line is that the manager did not know. They simply see the “pending approval” status of a training request in their Learning Management System. Their first impulse is to click “Approve”.

At the end of the day, training investments can be costly. It is not only the course, but the time away from the office and loss of resources. The next time your employee requests training, stop and ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Why do they need this training?
  2. Is the training for a new product roll out?
  3. Is there a system/operational change initiating the need for training?
  4. Is a new skill set needed to do the job?
  5. How will I measure the ROI?

The next time you see a request for training, ask yourself, “How will this affect the return on the investment to my organization.” We might not own the company, but as Leaders we need to be more diligent when making decisions.

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