How to turn a trillion-dollar waste of time, into your sustainable advantage

published on 04 April 2022

Trends show that global spending on workplace training is approaching $400 billion annually...or trillions per decade. This spend ranges from "check-the-box" training for regulatory compliance to training intended to be an highly strategic investment in improving outcomes.

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Just a few of the more common types of workplace training include: 

  1. Orientation training 
  2. Onboarding training
  3. Technical skills training
  4. Soft skills training
  5. Product or service training
  6. Compliance training
  7. Franchise training
  8. Management or leadership training

The goal of training should be new, enhanced, or altered behavior. After all, what value can you receive from training if you never actually apply it?

The problem is that most training falls into the category of event-based training. Event-based training tends to feel like a flash in the pan for employees, because the learning is not sustained over the course of their daily work life. Sadly, event-based training is the equivalent of interruption-based training because it typically involves interrupting the workflow of a particular employee, sending them to an event (online or in-person) where lots of information is projected at them, and then hoping that the employee takes it upon his/herself to apply what was learned. Sometimes rewards and penalties are attached to subsequent behavior, and almost always, much of what was learned is forgotten within just a few hours. 

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For the purposes of this post, assume for a moment that most training is actually worthwhile and fits into the "highly strategic investment" category. If the training you provide is intended to boost performance, then it is also true that the forgetting curve is jeopardizing your investment. 

So how can you ensure that your investment in training actually sticks

That which you (and your employees) repeatedly do becomes easier. It becomes second nature. But to repeatedly do something at a more efficient/impactful level requires ongoing feedback within your daily workflow. Mico-moments of pause, remembering, adapting and repeating successful behaviors. Humans aren't naturally inclined to work this way. 

But there is hope...

In a world where many internal and external interactions are happening virtually (through zoom meetings, chat clients, emails, phone calls and texting), there exists a digital footprint of exactly how workers perform in critical areas of leadership, communication, collaboration, service, response and critical thinking. This untapped ocean of insights is sitting there on your servers and in the apps you use, but you probably don't know how to unlock it, or decipher it. 

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This is why the executive sponsors of training initiatives, and the world's leading training companies are seeking help from innovators in the AI/ML space. By training machines to analyze and interpret human interactions, it is possible to detect when employees are successfully applying concepts from their training, and when they fall short.

Tools for coaching sales reps (Chorus, Gong, etc) have been some of the first technologies embraced in this space. By recording every sales call, leaders can listen in to every sales call (I know...it's a bit creepy)...and determine which reps have the best scripts, who is stumbling over their words, or who is dominating too much of the conversation without asking enough questions. 

But in a world where humans increasingly distrust AI (since it is more commonly used to exploit them), more is required to garner buy-in from the employees who would benefit most from their use. Weak leaders will use these systems to punish and control employee behavior. Strong leaders will ensure psychological safety for employees earnestly seeking to improve their performance, via enhanced privacy, self-directed learning and anonymizing group data. 

When done properly, leaders can empower workers with rapid feedback that fits into their daily workflow, and ensures psychological safety. 

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Want your sales people to follow proven techniques to qualify prospects? 

Want your managers to communicate with more empathy? 

Want to level up your own ability to lead your organization with greater inclusivity? 

Soon you'll be able to select ML models and AI applications from the world's leading authorities on any discipline, connect them to your data and the apps you use, and then empower your teams with just-in-time guidance to perform at consistently higher levels...and when done right, you'll grow to love what AI can do for you when it is aimed at doing good. 

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Author's note: if you're a leader seeking the ultimate advantage for your organization, or if you're a leading training expert in a related field, and want to learn about how you can lead in this space, email me at clint@soar.com.