A billion-dollar mistake

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Despite the billions of dollars spent on corporate training programs globally, the effectiveness of these programs is rarely evaluated by the companies that pay for them—nor by anyone else.

Estimates of the extent to which skills taught in company training programs carry over into day-to-day practice on the job are as low—and gloomy—as a mere 10 percent. But no one knows for sure what the true rate of improved job performance is, because the data are rarely collected

In particular for Behavioural Change

Many of the standard learning principles for training and development in organizations are insufficient for the more complicated task of upgrading emotional competencies.

Cultivating emotional competence requires an understanding of the fundamentals of behaviour change. The failure to take this into account wastes an immense investment in development and training each year. As I write this, millions upon millions of dollars are being wasted on training programs that have no lasting impact— or little effect at all—on building emotional competence. It amounts to a billion-dollar mistake.

Two thirds of employers do not evaluate the impact

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) surveyed a select group of thirty-five highly regarded “benchmark” companies. Twenty-seven said they tried in some way to promote emotional competence through training and development. But of these, more than two thirds had never attempted to evaluate the impact of their efforts.

Those who did, for the most part, relied on soft measures like attendee evaluations after training sessions and employee opinion surveys. A larger ASTD survey found that only 13 percent of companies evaluated their training in terms of on-the-job performance.

“The only hard measure we’ve had of development training is the number of bodies on chairs—we only know that people go through the training, not that they get anything out of it,” the head of human resources at one of the world’s largest financial services companies confided. “Sometimes we call it ‘spray and pray’: expose everybody to the training and hope it sticks to some.”

Many do not realise you can test the impact

There are many executives who don’t seem to realize you can design studies to test the programs you are spending so much on.” Sometimes this is a result of naiveté, and sometimes organizational politics are at fault. For example, a high-tech company that invested over a million dollars in a training program for working better in teams. Yet they made no attempt to evaluate its effectiveness. Why? “It was a pet project of an executive vice president. No one wanted to know if it worked—just if people liked it.

Extract from Working with Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman

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