As we enter a period of economic crisis and challenge, the role of corporate training must change to adapt. In this article, we explore both the problems and the opportunities created by the impending economic recession for corporate training departments. If corporate training department try to continue business as usual, they will find themselves downsized and many of their trainers will find themselves out of work. However, if corporate training department or the trainers themselves see today's economic challenges as an opportunity, the current economic challenge provides a unique historical opportunity to completely revolutionize the relevance of training activities within the organization.
The Mission of Training Departments: Past and Future
Historically, training department have focused their activities on training new employees in the existing methods and procedures within the organization. During times of growth and prosperity this focus works well. However, the world is changing. We live in times where following existing procedures becomes less and less important and making decisions about how to improve those procedures is becoming more important. The change represents both a significant challenge and a tremendous opportunity for training department.s
In times of economic retraction and recession, training is often seen as expendable because when companies stop hiring new people, management often calculates that that they need less training and can save on training expenditures. If this assumption is not challenged, the coming months and years will doom most trainers and most corporate training departments.
Corporate trainers should and many already do aspire to a broader mission than teaching well-defined (and therefore rigid) methods and procedures. As we teach in here at the Institute, methods and procedures are just 20% of what creates a successful strategic procedures. The opportunity for trainers is in broadening their mission to include the remaining 80%.
First and foremost, corporate trainers should be concerned with helping their organization's employees to understand the company’s larger mission and each individual’s part in achieving that mission. This is especially important as the roles within organizations change. As the survey in this articles discusses, the challenge in the corporate world today is creating an involved workforce.
Then they should broaden their training to the other key aspects of strategic positioning:
a) how to recognize the forces driving change and the need to adjust to changes in climate quickly,
b) customer/market understanding, which in difficult times becomes the responsibility of every person and department in the organization, not just sales and marketing,
c) leadership skills, especially day-to-day decision-making outside of set methods, which is really the point of what we teach about adapting to the environment, and finally
d) the established methods that they are already teaching.
These challenges are at once a threat and an opportunity.
As the least skilled workers are weeded out, the need for training those workers also disappears.