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Boost Your Training's Business Impact

Posted by Deborah Bigelow Crawford

Deborah Bigelow Crawford has more than 20 years of experience in business management and handles the operational and administrative functions of PM Solutions. Ms. Bigelow Crawford also serves as Co-CEO of the PM College®, PM Solutions' training division, where she is responsible for the fiscal management and quality assurance of all training and professional development programs. Prior to joining PM Solutions, she served as the Executive Director of the Project Management Institute (PMI), and was instrumental in providing the foundation and infrastructure for the exponential growth that the Institute has maintained over the last 10 years. In addition, she served as the Executive Director of the PMI Educational Foundation. Over the last decade, she has authored numerous articles in PM Network, Chief Project Officer, and Optimize magazines. Ms. Bigelow Crawford is also co-author of the book Project Management Essentials. She has presented a variety of papers as a speaker at international symposia and conferences, and is a member of the National Association of Female Executives and the Project Management Institute.

When it comes to training, I’m "old school” … I know it!  Running a training organization is sometimes challenging for me because I am adamant that to truly learn,  and to internalize the learning enough to apply it to your job, takes a lot more than just sitting at a computer reading.  That’s why I am always researching and following the industry reports: to open up my thinking to new trends, and to make sure that when we train, we are maximizing those training dollars and providing the best experience for our learners.

One recent read, the North American Training Industry Report 2018, contained numerous nuggets of wisdom.  One that particularly stood out: “content needs to be current, appropriately curated, timely, and perceived to be relevant to the learners’ jobs.” I totally agree. Off-the-shelf programs have always seemed so sterile to me.  When I’ve taken them, I find them interesting, but am never sure how to apply them exactly to my job.  However, when I’ve been fortunate enough to have a training course that uses my company’s terminology, process, and examples, I am so much more involved in the whole learning process.  These customized courses really do promote learning … and ultimately ensure business impact.  Something that we plan to start doing, is to consult with our learning participants’ managers, both during the curriculum design process, and after the training has been completed.  Managers really should be consulted on exactly what are some of the behaviors training is trying to change.  What are some of the day-to-day challenges that training needs to addres?  Trainers then need to follow up with the managers, who now have skin in the game, to see if they are encouraging and expecting results from the training that was provided. It becomes a collaborative effort.  This makes so much sense to me; how can it fail to improve outcomes? 

Another nugget from the Industry Report: training needs to be consistently applied across the organization. If not, it creates a challenge for L&D leaders. This, too makes sense, and confirms my belief that customized content will be better internalized, and thus have a stronger business impact.

I do understand that everyone learns differently.  Organizations need to address this, but I caution them to address this not just from a monetary point of view, but rather from a learning impact point of view.  The number one issue for L&D professionals in 2018, according to the Report,  is a lack of budgetary resources.  My advice: Don’t waste precious dollars to train more employees, but rather consider the quality of the training on possibly fewer, more targeted employees. 

Make your training dollars become business drivers for your organization.  Old school or not … the learning impact is what matters most. What will work best for your organization?

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