We have all been there at one time or another. Budgets are tighter than expected. Often external spend is reduced to a minimum.
A lack of budget should not mean training stops. It means we need to start thinking differently.
Its innovation time!
Attending courses are not the only way to train and develop people. Sometimes we need to focus on the end result, the learning needed and not the journey – how that knowledge of skill should be achieved.
When as part of a Personal Development Plan, PDP or appraisal process, we identify a “development need”. That need still exists. It does not matter if there is $1M in the budget or $0. Are we identifying real needs, or needs that we believe we can “fix” by booking a person on an off-the-shelf training course?
If the need was identified, the need exists. If the need exists we as professional managers cannot ignore that need because Human Resources (HR) or “Learning & Development” (L&D) are not running that course this year!
The challenge for managers and learning and development teams under such situations is to find creative solutions.
How do people develop themselves outside work?
In the 1980s it was common for people to attend “night school”, but that has reduced to basic hobbies and essentials for low pay careers. What your average 20 year old will do is hit the web. I remember my daughter telling be that her and her boyfriend learnt to tie a bow-tie on YouTube. I have used such videos each time I need to fold a large photographic backdrop. I have also started using some of the MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) for learning new skills and methods. Some are free, the best ones cost a little. But not as much as a classroom. The added value is I can learn when I want to. Just in time learning. I do not have to wait 6 months for a suitable course!
Sites like YouTube, Udemy and many others provide reasonable quality learning materials that cost little or nothing. Books cost very little. Nor do “brown bag lunches”, where people in the organisation that have a passion and set of skills can share knowledge with those that need it.
Training should NEVER be dependent on attending a training course. Much like PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in the world of safety, training courses should be the last line of defense – not the solution!
L&D teams in the past have not helped
Often in the past, the identification of training needs has been by course “presentation skills”, “running meetings”, “report writing” etc. Rather than the actual skills required: planning a presentation, use of visual aids, managing Q&A, formatting and structuring a report, etc.
Managers and L&D teams need to focus on what the individuals needs to be able to do, not the input of knowledge.
If it’s in the plan it needs to happen
Once a need has been identified, that needs has to be met. Of course there are some compliance requirements that need X course. But that is not true for 90% of training. Courses are the lazy and easy way out of “putting a tick in the box”. Much like eLearning has become for compliance training for many sectors.
If as a manager we agree a certain need is written in an appraisal or PDP, we need to be prepared to make it happen. If it needs a course we must have/ find the spend. If the knowledge or skill can be developed another way, we need to find it.
Spoilt by times of abundance
When our businesses have had excessive cash, we pay for everything. We use the best training, the best locations etc. We treat learning as an advantage, a privilege, a reward. We do not use it as a business tool.
Of course this approach in many ways is also very lazy. When a person has been on a training course, we as managers can relax as someone else does the heavy lifting for us. But in reality of course its very different. When was the last time you put a person on a course and they come back “fixed”? It doesn’t work like that!
Training courses are only a small part of the learning journey. It is arguably a faster way to acquire the knowledge. It is also a great way to have a first go at practicing the new skills or behaviours in a “safe environment”. But it takes many, many repetitions to fully embed the new approach or learning. If we believe the 70-20-10 approach, as well as the “10” learning, we as managers need to still do the 90 (70+20)!
The majority of the work still needs to happen. We need to help the individuals understand what it is they have learnt. Where and when they will APPLY the new skills or behaviours. Give them feedback. Not just once, but dozens of times, over an extended period of time.
People do not learn how to be great presenters on a 2 day presentation skills course! Nor do they suddenly become great report writers after a 2 day workshop. Of course they can learn great new skills, processes. They have boost their confidence. But it is the start of the learning journey, not the end of the journey of a single particular skills or behaviour.
Before we spend
Whenever we spend money on training courses we need to ask ourselves,
“If I had little money in the pot would I still put the person on this course rather than developing the person in other ways?”
If not, then why are we putting people on training courses when the budget does exist?
Free is not always best
Whilst there are some things for free, it does not mean they are good or valid. It is easy for people to publish on the web. Real quality is designed and developed by people that know. It is their Intellectual Property (IP). They have invested time and resources to share it. If people do not get paid for their investment, they will stop.
As professionals (manager or L&D), we need to respect this investment. Ethically we also need to respect IP and not use material without permission. This is theft! Having no budget is no excuse to use materials without paying for it!
A lack of budget does not mean no training
A lack of budget does not mean no training should take place. Training courses are not learning PPE! A PDP is a plan, how we meet that plan needs to be flexible.