Training is an integral part of the change management process and is essential for a smooth transition. While learning is an ongoing process and occurs even without formal training, formal training is beneficial during times of change to help individuals develop new skills and competencies. When an organization changes, members may have to achieve higher performance standards. Some members already possess the necessary skills to do this and only require updated information about goals and outcomes. Others, however, may need to develop these skills. Companies can choose to replace staff or train existing staff so they can fulfill their new roles. Organizations opt for the latter to invest in training, development, and learning opportunities for their employees.
The Importance of Training and Development During Organizational Change
The majority of change initiatives fail, and this is partly due to employee resistance and poor managerial behavior. Training and development can help prevent this since these interventions are usually provided to those leading change and those who need to achieve more because of their roles in the change. Managers and supervisors in charge of change initiatives can take advantage of training and development opportunities and use them to better communicate with employees and lead them through times of change. In fact, training can help them better advocate for and make those under them understand and embrace change. Additionally, training can help teams be more successful and aids leaders specifically.
Best Practices for Effective Training and Development During Organizational Change
Despite organizations spending billions on training, only 25% of respondents believe that training improved performance measurably. Additionally, 75% of managers from 50 different organizations claimed not to be satisfied with their organization’s Learning & Development (L&D) function. Instead of falling victim to this kind of training, companies should use the following best practices to ensure their training is effective and useful.
Combine Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches
If organizations want their change initiatives to be successful, they must approach training and development during the organizational change from both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Top-down learning processes are essential because leaders must clarify the organization’s needs and the results they expect from training and development programs. This creates structure and allows employees to benefit from leaders’ support. Yet, bottom-up approaches are also integral because of the value of employee feedback and because this strengthens leadership training and can change company culture from the ground up.
According to McKinsey, leadership development is essential during times of change since companies that focus on this are 2.4 times more likely to achieve their performance targets.
Conduct a Training Needs Analysis
Training is often ineffective because organizations overlook a training needs analysis. Since this examines employees’ skills and competencies and identifies gaps keeping the company’s objectives and goals in mind, it’s extremely important and is one of the main aspects of effective training. Yet, only 40% of organizations consider business goals when developing their learning strategies. By ignoring current objectives, priorities, and budgets, companies fall into the trap of using obsolete approaches and set themselves up for failure.
A thorough training needs analysis involves a systems-level review, a task analysis, and a person analysis. These are discussed in detail below.
This consists of establishing how change initiatives will affect the company and its goals. Discovering how demands will be affected can help determine task and person analyses. Determining goals beforehand is especially useful since they can be used to determine not only training outcomes but also success.
As the name suggests, a task analysis determines the specifics of job and task changes and what is required from different employees. This considers skills and knowledge and helps determine what is required for employees to succeed in their new roles. This, in turn, helps guide training and allows companies to focus on particular knowledge and skills. Research has confirmed that considering the skills required to improve performance makes change programs six times more likely to be successful.
The results of the task analysis help organizations with their person analysis, i.e., the gaps between what is required from employees and what they are already equipped to handle. Their current abilities can be measured in numerous ways, including through formal assessments, reviewing their prior work, and using surveys.
In addition to identifying these gaps, a person analysis looks at individual members of the company and specific groups within the organization to determine what kind of training is needed. It’s especially useful to determine training goals by specifying behavioral objectives and employees’ capabilities after the training. This kind of in-depth employee evaluation can also aid in personalizing training content to individual employees and their needs, making the training more effective. By focusing on specific needs, businesses can eliminate training that isn’t required and make the training process more efficient. Additionally, personalization can be used to ensure every employee benefits from the specific training they need to meet the company’s goals.
Choose the Right Design and Delivery for Your Needs
Training and development have traditionally been restricted to in-person meetings and sessions. However, technological development and existence in the age of the internet have made digital learning more popular. Organizations must keep their needs in mind when choosing the right approach to training and development during organizational change. For example, while in-person training and discussion groups are useful when focusing on changes in attitude, this may not be a possibility because of time or commute constraints. Additionally, the fear of public failure and judgment may prevent employees from asking questions, clarifying concepts, and practicing their learning behaviors and skills.
Using multiple types of learning opportunities can be extremely useful and encourage real-world application. For example, instead of simply offering training sessions and digital tools, organizations can embrace on-the-job training, fieldwork, social learning, and more. Formal training is much more effective when combined with informal learning such as mentoring, shadowing leaders, apprenticeships, and coaching.
It’s also important to reinforce training by encouraging continuous learning. Instead of restricting learning to a short period of time, it should be stretched out over a longer period of time and reinforced in different ways. This way, employees are less likely to forget their training and more likely to apply it to their jobs.
Encourage Application to Real-World Scenarios
While employees may receive new training, this isn’t effective unless it’s applied to real-world scenarios. This can be accomplished by encouraging the application of principles learned in real-time so employees can better understand not only theory but implementation. Real-world application in real-time also shortens the feedback loop since employees can offer real-time feedback and thus improve success.
Use the Right Measurements
Measuring the effectiveness of training is key since only a mere 12% of employees apply their training and new skills to their jobs and training are often deemed ineffective. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to use the wrong KPIs to measure effectiveness. Instead of measuring the success of training in terms of credits, businesses should consider the training’s impact on the organization and its goals.
Additionally, metrics such as completion statistics and program satisfaction aren’t as useful as metrics based on the outcome. These include employee engagement, the training’s effect on employee performance, and improvement in business tasks. According to Kirkpatrick (1983), the effectiveness of training can be measured through factors such as employees’ reactions to the training, what they learned, their behavior, and the results produced.
Summary and Conclusion
There’s no doubt that Training and Development During Organizational Change are a huge part of organizational change and its success. Training interventions make leaders more effective in disseminating the relevant change information and ensure employees have the skills to meet performance goals and stay engaged. By using best practices such as conducting a training needs analysis, keeping design and delivery in mind, and using the right measures to evaluate training, organizations can ensure they’re a step closer to making their change initiatives and training sessions more effective.