How to run Training department like a Business and Why ?

Chart If you believe that training departments should run like business and looking for ways to achieve it, you have come to the right place. I had written in one my posts on “Why training departments should run like business”; this post outlines the steps required.   Let me tell you in advance that this requires a paradigm shift in the way many training departments think and act currently. It is to think purely in terms of results and to be driven only by this objective.   First and foremost – Be a business and functional expert first and then a training expert. How do we do that? Be proactive, learn about business and engage continuously with the business functions to learn its nuances and challenges, if you do not have prior experience leading a business function.

  • Derive the KPI / expected outcomes for each department; understand current state. Difference is the performance gap; while skill gaps could solely lead to performance gaps, it is most often not the case . Discuss across the board and finalize on competencies (6-8 ideally) required to perform at expected level, first at a department level and then at different employee levels.
  • Engage with each business function to understand the current state of employees on each these skills and competencies – this could be through surveys, interviews etc;  figure the gaps. Filling these gaps to the accepted level should dictate the KPI of training department, not the number of training programs.
  • Now this part is very important – Analyze different delivery methods for addressing each of training needs. While doing so, it extremely important to remind ourselves that the best approach ten years ago need not be the best approach now – basing all training on Pedagogy is past, it should be Andragogy for adults. The reach of internet and abundance of available information have rendered many of the conventional training methods obsolete. You could consider gamification, e-learning, webinars, social networking, workshops, peer-peer learning, mentoring programs and many other ways that suits the target audience. Key is to ensure that the method chosen is engaging, cost-effective and will deliver the required outcome. Keep in mind VAK learning styles while developing the program so that it appeals to all categories.
  • Collaborate with business to detail your plan, let them know how your plan would help them achieve their KPI. Once you have a buy-in, schedule and implement the training programs.
  • Continuously measure the effectiveness of the program. I suggest Kirkpatrick model with its multiple checkpoints for impact analysis, but you could use any other model or make your own; objective is to be able to quantify the results in line with the KPI. If the current program isn’t delivering expected results, identify reasons; do not hesitate to adjust and refine wherever and whenever required.
  • Now is the slightly tricky, but the essential part – ROI of the training department. There would be several internal and external factors that could influence the business outcome, but the training KPI would indicate your performance.  Use this in relation with the KPI and Competency mapping of other departments to formulate your ROI.
  • Now another very important factor that is very often overlooked – marketing. Yes, you read it right; I meant marketing. It is essential for the Training manager to market his programs within the organization. Heard about the “Three times” rule? Any new information typically requires being heard/seen thrice for someone to register it. So, not only market, but do repeat the message.

Change is the only constant; as professionals in the learning & development function, it is essential that we stay one step ahead of the change. Feel free to write to me at if I can help you with your training objectives.

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