It might be true that some strategic priorities are advanced through training investment. But how would we know?
The current methods of sustaining and measuring training program efficacy are largely broken.
Over $358 billion was spent globally on corporate training last year, with an estimated $41 billion of that figure being spent on leadership training in the United States alone.
This figure makes the global corporate training industry comparable in size to the entirety of the online education industry.
Leadership training is, at its core, a business investment.
Just like any other business investment, the business owner wants to see a return that advances the organization’s priorities.
That’s why senior leaders around the globe are willing to make a substantial investment in training, and they’re willing to make that investment repeatedly, or at least often enough to sustain the surprisingly large industry.
And as their businesses develop, they bring about new projects, new goals, and new priorities.
New priorities require new competencies to achieve them.
Where can businesses get these new competencies? Competencies can be obtained in one of two ways: they can be either bought by hiring new talent, or developed through training existing leaders.
That’s where leadership development comes in: coaches take existing leaders, with a brain full of knowledge about past and present business activities, and train them in the new competencies they’ll need to usher in the business’ future.
Businesses want to invest in new training to bring new learning experiences to their leaders.
The goal is to expose leadership to new ideas, and motivate them to put those ideas into practice.
The challenge in this, of course, is that simply exposing leaders to a new idea does not, in and of itself, “develop a competency.”
As leadership development consultants and coaches, you know all too well that new skills and behaviors take time and practice to master.
Leaders must also make the conscious decision to implement the new concepts they’ve learned quickly, or else they risk forgetting the ideas altogether.
Studies show that when we learn information quickly, it escapes our memories over time; unless, of course, there is distinct action taken to preserve it. This is known as The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.
Without a purposeful action that intervenes, there is a natural “trajectory of forgetting” that is experienced by most participants after a learning and development session.
As an industry, we’ve attempted to combat the effects of the Forgetting Curve with two standard interventions:
(1) coaching, or reinforcement sessions with a trained guide; and
(2) micro-learning modules, or content dripped out over time.
Coaching is powerful, but expensive. As a result, coaching is perhaps not easily scalable, and certainly limited in terms of how often, for how long, and for whom it can be used.
And while micro-learning is cost-effective, it’s value will only be realized if the participant takes the time to consume the content, find relevance in it, and finally, purposefully apply the content.
This happens infrequently, since there is rarely a true sense of urgency for them to do so.
Ultimately, neither coaching nor micro-learning provide a complete solution.
They’re also methods that are wholly unable, on their own, to address the missing link of the behavior change required to see tangible business impact.
Interested in the solution to these challenges faced by learning and development consultants? Stay tuned for our next blog post.