The Learning Age
Training in today’s learning age has transformed itself from an educational and purely academic dimension to a more inclusive lifelong learning experience. As we grow in our careers and develop our skills and knowledge, we are enriching not only ourselves, but also everyone that we come into contact with. This transformational experience helps each and every person to learn valuable lessons that are absorbed into our habits, attitudes and beliefs, which are in turn transformed into our actions and help us not only to define our personal objectives, but also what alternatives we consider to achieve these. Hence training not only shapes what we know, but more importantly also shapes who we are.
This behavioural transformation is more so evident in today’s learning age, where lessons are learnt not only through traditional means, but right from childbirth we are continuously exposed to media channels that shape our beliefs, attitudes and learning habits. With the constant drive for mobility, distance learning and e-learning courses have now become ordinary, and are well and truly the landscape of the present and future scenarios for learning.
Organisational Training as an Investment
As training is necessarily an organisational investment, the provision of opportunities for development to employees has to result in a benefit or return that the organisation will obtain from such investment. Training is thus necessary to help an organisation to shape and change employees’ expected behaviour, beliefs, attitudes and capabilities, which are eventually manifested in employees’ performance. Thus, the link between attaining organisational goals and the training planned and delivered becomes clearer as training delivery changes behaviour and performance, hence attaining individual, departmental and subsequently organisational goals. With organisations striving to improve on efficiency, training organisation and delivery is now wide-reaching, with significant opportunities for continuous personal development readily available. This does not only stem from the many e-learning opportunities and webinars organised around the globe and which can be tapped into, repeatedly as many times as necessary, but also from the fact that knowledge is freely available to all on a 24×7 basis through social, interactive and informative media.
All this knowledge readily available provides employees with a wealth of information at everyone’s fingertips, being able to make use of smart devices readily connected to the global web. This availability of knowledge also stimulates even further those learners who take the initiative and seek to improve themselves not because they have to, but because they have the internal motivation or desire to develop themselves further. This internal motivation is the same that drives employees to strive for achieving better performance results in their daily responsibilities, and this is what leads to the development of high performing employees. Like all other investments, the investment made in training needs to translate into a higher return for the organisation – yet it is in the best interests of an organisation to give its’ employees all possible opportunities to take advantage of learning opportunities that become available.
Training leads to Better Performance which leads to Training
Developing a trained workforce helps an organisation to set higher standards of performance, raising the bar in terms of quantity, quality and outcome. In so doing, performance standards that are met lead to the achievement of organisational goals, which gives an organisation greater confidence to set more ambitious and reachable targets. This, in turn necessitates further training requirements, possibly of a higher level, that will subsequently widen employees’ knowledge and understanding. Through the recognition of knowledge acquired by employees, hence creating and sustaining a learning organisation, employees feel empowered to learn and develop further new skills and knowledge. This sets the scene for the organisation to embrace a kaizen methodology, or a continuous improvement cycle that seeks to improve all organisational functions, from senior management down to the lower levels.
Better organisational performance leads to the attainment of organisational goals, setting even higher objectives based upon the expertise, experience and knowledge already acquired. The strategic importance of organisational training is further highlighted as employees’ knowledge and capabilities is nowadays a significant source of competitive advantage that in turn enables organisations to reach and exceed set goals.
The direct link between training and organisational goals becomes more evident when the human resources long-term strategy is considered within the holistic corporate strategy. An organisation is only able to reach its’ corporate goals through adequate employee performance, which in turn needs to be sustained by sources of knowledge, expertise and experience, and the opportunity to develop even greater expertise. Thus, only by directly linking its’ training objectives to the organisational goals will an organisation be able to maximise its’ return on investment in training, thus not only creating sustainable organisational performance but also setting the scene for even higher organisational objectives.