Training in Action

The American Society of Training & Development (ASTD) estimates that U.S. organizations spent over 170 billion dollars on employee learning and development in 2010. It is a staggering number and no wonder that CEOs are asking how much return on investment they can expect. The answer to that question depends on another question: What did the training look like? According to the ASTD\’s 2011 State of the Industry report, approximately 70% of training continues to be delivered in a traditionally formal setting.

Formal Training: The term conjures images of a seminar hall with stadium seating, packed with people dutifully silencing their smart phones and doing their best to attend to the wizened professional before them imparting valuable knowledge that may or may not relate to their job. The term also brings to mind an employee sitting in front of a computer, furiously clicking the next button on a 45-minute presentation in hopes of reaching the review quiz and successfully guessing the correct answers. It’s as if we believe that by simply showing our employees content, they’ll absorb it and apply it on the job.

These examples of formal training have three things in common. First, they were probably carefully designed following principles that have been popular in the past. Second, they undoubtedly cost money. Third, if the organization is fortunate, they may account for 10% of the learners\’ knowledge and skill acquisition. So, you may ask, where does the other 90% of learning come from?

Here we turn to the 70-20-10 model. Research shows that 70 percent of learning happens on the job, 20 percent through mentorship and networking, and merely 10 percent through formal training. Given these statistics, is it any wonder that we are not seeing our ROI from formal training programs? Thankfully, there’s a solution.

At PulseLearning, we believe that it is possible to target the remaining 90% through Action-Based Training. Rather than take our learners out of their real-world environment, we immerse them into challenging situations that require them to implement the behavior we would like them to master. For example, instead of a 45-minute presentation and 30-page manual on how to sell widgets, we produce a scenario that requires the learner to sell more widgets, better allocate resources, improve safety compliance, reduce customer help tickets, and so on. By creating training that replicates on-the-job tasks, we are better able to align the content to our Clients\’ strategic business goals and measure the ROI.

Unless we are hoping that our employees develop quick-fire clicking skills or master the task of sitting dutifully in a hall, we need to look at different modalities of training. Let\’s move from formal training to effective training. Let\’s take action.

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