Last week the annual ASTD Conference (American Society for Training and Development) was held in Washington DC, USA. Every year this conference brings together training and development professionals from not only major American companies, but from the whole world, as well as the leading suppliers in the industry.
During the four days of the conference, much was shared through workshops, conferences, and discussion panels, from projects and best practices to company concerns in T&D.
As usual, Overlap was present with its international delegation that consisted of Antonio Rubio (Overlap’s R&D & Innovation Director), Ignacio Marinas (Manager for Overlap Europe), Alberto Saul Roitman (Sales Manager for Overlap Brazil), María Kol (Consultant for Overlap Brazil), Aleksandra Brankov Pujic (Consultant for Overlap Spain/International), and Arturo Reglero (Banking & Insurance Manager for Overlap Spain).
One of the main objectives for attending this conference is to identify trends that help refresh our learning solutions, and include these in Overlap’s Trends Report in Learning and Development that is created biannually.
Now, I would like to share with you my experience there: During these four days, I had the opportunity to see firsthand the concerns, or perhaps it’s more fitting to say the needs, that T&D departments have in becoming strategic levers for their organizations and showing how their activity impacts business results.
My personal goal for this conference was to attend seminars where examples of impact measurement would be examined. In most cases, I found that companies are able to measure quite accurately both the initial feedback, as well as the knowledge acquired in various learning activities, but they continue to have difficulty measuring medium-term behavioral changes in their professional networks, and above all, realizing the impact these changes can have on business results.
I recognize that the lack of clear solutions to this learning problem generates more questions than answers, but in any case it also leads me to some conclusions that I would like highlight:
- Training and development activities that seek to exploit general concepts (leadership, management, sales) will carry over the impossibility to measure their real impact on the business. Budgetary constraints often make one use standard contents and material, and these contents are incompatible with certain advanced measurements.
- You cannot, or rather should not, design a training and development solution by thinking of the knowledge or skills you want to convey or develop, but instead it should be based on the behavior you want to implement. Perhaps the cause of these approaches must be sought from training, so that we ask ourselves for each position of the organization what knowledge should be taught or what skills should be developed, rather than “how we want it to be” or “how we want them to work”.
- If we really want to aspire to measure how training impacts the business, the learning solutions that are designed should take into account the working model of those who will be trained and their business objectives, and from there incorporate the tools they will need. We have always called this “customized training”, but today’s “low cost world” has sometimes made us forget it.
- Formal training solutions (classroom courses, e-learning) are appropriate for the improvement of knowledge, but by themselves they lack sufficient strength to ensure sustainable behavioral changes over time. They require to be accompanied by dynamic activities and on-the-job monitoring, preferably led by management.
These findings share a common denominator: they consider those that are responsible for the training of professionals in companies in having a challenge in their hands that goes beyond the mere transmission of knowledge. This challenge is all about helping others to be prepared for the trials and uncertainties that the future holds, where innovation, speed and continuous transformation will always be present.
In summary, it is all about enabling each person to give the best of him or herself, and providing levers to develop their talent. In fact, it’s no wonder that the organization that began as the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) finished the last day of the conference by announcing its change of name, after 71 years, to the ATD (Association for Talent Development).
T is for Training?? No, T is definitely for Talent!