Vaccinating for the Training Virus?


“I’m so sorry to tell you this,” said the doctor to the CEO, “but your company has very little time left.  One of your departments has been underperforming for so long that I’m not sure there is anything I can do.”

Dying a Slow Death

Companies everywhere are dying a slow death because they are infected with the “Training Virus.”  This nasty bug eats away at the competencies of employees and, over time, renders them incapable of meeting or exceeding their company’s business objectives.

Without being vaccinated, a company is very susceptible to this internally produced virus.  Without treatment, the virus will eventually kill a company’s ability to exist!

On Being a Human

Every company employs a percentage of what we call in the human resource world, human beings.

These beings all start off with a skill set in varying degrees of competency and experience.  Solid recruiting and interviewing by hiring managers has allowed some organizations to hire the best talent in the market to work for their company. But to insure the best outcome for the organizations goals, additional skills must always be developed in order for this employee to continue to provide optimal production.

Enter a company’s internal training and development function –

The training development function within an organization is there to provide both immediate skill development to compensate for skills not brought to the table, as well as, future skills and competencies needed by the organization.

That is the purpose of the training function in a nutshell!

This is the bare minimum that the training function is required to provide as a return on the investment in their function.

Closing the Gap

Training personnel should be talented and possess the skills to close skill gaps as soon as they are discovered. At the same time, they should be flexible to incorporate the future needs of the organization by being proactive in planning for skills that fix performance issues as well as preventing a deficit of skills for company needs.

Organizational Health is directly tied to the health of the training function!

When a training department is unhealthy, in other words, they lack the skills, competencies, or motivation to perform their distinctive roles, then the employee population has a very difficult time achieving the knowledge and abilities they need to perform both basic and complex tasks.

Once the training department becomes ill (contracts the virus), it may not become immediately obvious to senior management.  Rarely will a training department be forthcoming with their illness for fear of reprisal, but none the less the illness remains and left untreated will get worse.


How to identify if your company has the Training Virus……

Senior Management should look for warning signs at the very minimum from this list:

  • Does the training department regularly update senior management with progress reports?
  • Does the training department regularly seek input from senior management?
  • Is training offered through different medias, formats and choices?
  • Is there a return on the investment being made in training?
  • What has training done recently that has been instrumental to the business operation?

This is a list of symptoms and much like the stuffy nose, sore throat and coughing that alerts you to the coming cold, and the headache with fever heralds the coming of the flu, nothing is for certain without a trip to the doctor.  And in the case of training, what is needed is a complete audit of the health of this function.

Why all the Drama?

Training is a misunderstood function, that is either saddled with responsibilities outside of their scope or they are not held accountable to the correct activities.  At times training can screw up so badly at one thing that it can have an impact on the business, but most of the time other factors compensate for any incompetency.

However over time, this incompetency will fester and evolve into the virus that eventually paralyzes or kills a company’s ability to function.

Focusing management on the true value and purpose of training and how it ties into the health of their organization is vital to keep a training cold from every becoming a training virus.  And even though most training departments appear to be functioning, the hard reality is most are quite sick and in need of immediate treatment.

Jim Hopkins
is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He is a Consultant, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health

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L2L Contributing Author