Cutting the Cost of Training
By Caroline Cooper
I read the other day that nearly 50% of hospitality businesses have cut back on their staff training during the recession. If a football team, or a cricket team or a golfer dropped their level of performance, would they stop training? Of course not, they'd do the opposite.
So why is it so many businesses (not just hotels or hospitality businesses) seem to think that when business performance drops off, it is a time to cut back on investing in their people?
There might be any number of 'excuses'.
• Well, what if I invest in their training and then they decide to leave.
But what if you don’t invest in their training and they decide to stay?
• We've had to cut back on staff, so I can't afford the time to release anyone.
So how then are they going to learn to do two jobs instead of one without any training?
• I can't afford the investment.
How wisely are you spending your investment? When was the last time you sat down and reviewed with a team member what they learnt and what they are doing differently as a result of any training they have had.
And how does your investment in training compare with your investment in kitchen equipment or bedroom refurbishments?
Rather than cut back on training, aim to get better value for money from your investment of time and money.
Firstly, we need to recognize that every line manager too has a role in training; that it's not all down to formal courses or the training department (if you are lucky enough to have one), or external training providers. This starts with an accurate identification of the (training) need. Simply because someone is not able to perform a particular task to standard doesn't always equate to a training need; so many businesses just throw money away by nominating people from programs that with the best will in the world would never resolve the problem. And assuming it is a training need, how well is the individual briefed beforehand so that they have a clear picture of what it is they should be taking away from the training?
When the training is conducted by a third party i.e. someone other than the line manager, we need to be aware that in order for new found skills or knowledge to be transferred to the workplace, individuals might then need further coaching and/or support from their line manager.
Secondly, the business as a whole needs to recognize the role that line managers have in the training and development of their staff. This means that the bottom-up approach will seldom be effective. Even if the junior ranks are trained, without the backing, guidance, support and coaching from those above them it will be an uphill struggle for them to implement their training.
Formal training, as well as eating up training budgets, is often not as effective as on job training, not least due to the inherent logistical problems, particularly with the shift patterns operated in so many hospitality businesses. But in order for on job training to take place, the people who do need training or coaching are those line managers, mentors, buddies, and coaches who will be implementing this. Giving them the skills and confidence first can make not only for a more cost-effective way to train but provides excellent development for those involved in delivering or supporting the training.
Recognize good learning opportunities. When business is tough, people will often be exposed to new situations and therefore developing new skills and gaining valuable new experience. However to make best use of this as a development tool, it is important to take some time out to review what people have learnt, and where else they can apply this to enhance their own performance in other areas, or to the benefit of the business as a whole. This again needs input and guidance from managers to capitalize on this experience.
Finally, to make best use of training budgets (I'm making a rash assumption that you do actually have a budget for training), businesses must measure the return on what they have already spent. No business in their right mind would continue investing in an area of training unless it was paying dividends, but how many businesses make the effort to measure how effective training has been? In its simplest terms, this is asking the question 'Did the training (or coaching or mentoring) achieve what we set out to do?'
So if businesses are serious about looking to save money on their training, maybe they should first think about the most cost-effective way of delivering it and ensuring they are gaining value and a return on that investment.
Caroline's new online leadership coaching program which includes more help and guidance on a range of leadership topics is being launched in September.
Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years in business and management development. She is the founder of Zeal Coaching, specialising in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of the 'Hotel Success Handbook.'