Learning exists to drive business results. It's that simple. That implies focus on business priorities, a more strategic view of needs analysis, tough prioritisation of learning activity and content, timing of learning to support business initiatives, clear learning performance metrics and more.
Start with your desired business outcomes. For example:
- Sales growth 6% (double "natural" market growth)
- Increase market share by 2 percentage points
- Full integration of the merged sales force within 4 months
- Achieve all of the above with no dollar increase in "trade spend"
Then identify any gaps in the critical competencies that will drive this change. Rigorously focus on these…..avoid the "nice to haves."
Competencies describe what superior performers do, and how they do it, to make a difference in their job. There are more sophisticated answers, but that's the crux of it. For example, in Sales, the traditional competencies were based on selling & negotiation, account planning and supply chain management. Those remain important, but don't usually differentiate superior performance.
Today's differentiators are more likely to be in areas of commercial acumen, networking, adding value to the customer's business, innovating in the way we do business together, and continuous self-development.
Many of our clients use "2% of payroll" as a corporate guideline. In the Sales function, where payoffs can be high, the average is around 3% of payroll.
That may drop back to 2% if you have high internal self-sufficiency in training delivery: you own the materials, you have a cadre of line managers who can act as facilitators or subject matter experts.
Have a sound business case based on business results, which supports critical commercial initiatives. Demonstrate the ROI outcomes that they can expect from an investment of 2 to 4% of payroll.
In your curriculum, distinguish between "assigned" (or mandated) programs for each job role, and "electives." Invite senior management to support that mandate.
On a day to day basis, engage them in learning. It can be as simple as opening or closing events.
Keep your Success Stories in front of them. Prove your ROI forecasts and communicate the best qualitative feedback.
Refer to "ROI on Training Investment." Start with some specific, quantified targets, and rigorously track them. They can also be used to screen anyone's bright idea on program additions!
Yes. Modern performance management processes ensure that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are closely aligned to desired business results. We have trained our people to prioritise scarce time around the things that are inspected.
If Learning based KPIs are not included, we run the risk of Learning becoming a discretionary activity. This is particularly true of managers, who have a propensity to focus on tasks before people. They should be measured on the quantity and quality of their learning delivery and on improvements in their team's competency scores.
Of course. Training is rarely a standalone solution. You can use training to accelerate the work on other critical change projects in areas like supply chain management, promotional performance management, account management processes, new channel development, and so on.
Our early roots were in pharmaceuticals, automotive and agri-business, due to our founder's consulting and work experience.
When we transferred from Europe to Australasia in the 1980s, we discovered a concentration of buying power in the FMCG channel (and related channels like Pharmacy or Home Improvements) which skewed the business towards distributive strategy and retail key account management. That remains important to us today.
Our focus areas at any one time depend on the composition of our team. See the "Client" menu for recent examples.
We have 3 main areas of competence:
- Sales Effectiveness Consulting, including a significant practice in Key Account Management
- Training Design, including consulting on learning management, which goes well beyond the sales focus reflected on this site
- Training delivery, face to face, via on-line learning, or virtual classroom
Blended learning combines two or more learning media to create business outcomes, by transferring learning to on-the-job activity and results. For example:
- On-line learning modules followed by a debrief with your manager and a field coaching session with the learning topic as the theme
- "Prework" before a workshop (e.g. researching a customer's business), using live examples in workshops, and personal action plans supported by the manager, post workshop
Yes. Many of our clients have good 5 year old programs. They own them and want to refresh them. We do it all the time, and then add the blended learning solutions that create a great contemporary program.
We have very capable instructional designers. We can align to the style and content of any client owned program. We can create content for workshops, short reinforcement modules to be run by line managers, on-line modules, podcasts or new case studies.
A case in point is a global sales program for a client's new "University" - 50 x 2 hour, paper based modules that can be organised into different configurations of workshops for Sales Managers, Key Account Managers or Field Sales personnel, with slides, exercises, trainer's notes.
About 20% of these are "custom": - designed exclusively for the client. 70% are "customised" using JSA core materials with client examples and about 10% content change. 10% are "off the shelf": no content change, but presented in client artwork.
This classroom based curriculum is also supported by short on-line learning sessions and even shorter podcasts (as illustrated in JSA's On-Line Sales Training offer).
Yes. Around 30% of our work is designing programs to be run by client L&D staff, or line managers.
We provide detailed Trainer's Notes and "Train the Trainer" support, one-on-one or in small groups. We easily adjust to the skill levels of our clients' trainers, from the most inexperienced to the most capable.
Yes. Even when we have trained client trainers to run programs, we are often invited to facilitate the first session in a series, to demonstrate good practice.
Managers have only 2 imperatives: Get the job done and develop people.
We certainly expect them to be active coaches and to reinforce any common team training needs at team meetings.
We also expect them to use Company Appraisal processes to go much further than just nominate a list of courses to attend. They need to be able to practice 70: 20: 10 (see next question in FAQ) and plan/manage individuals' development.
70: 20: 10 is a common sense definition of how all of us learn. We learn 70% by doing, 20% from others and only 10% from being taught (in workshops or via books or online modules).
That's why we suggest that managers whose appraisal output is a "list of courses for you to attend" are abrogating their responsibility for people development. They need to add the 20% (course follow-up, on-the-job coaching, mentoring, or buddy programs). They also need to find creative ways to help people to learn from their work experience - to make the 70% come alive.
Line Managers' ability to coach is business critical.
If you could only have one element in your training program, it would be first rate on-the-job coaching. Workshops or on-line learning alone don't cut it.
Naturally, we run coaching workshops for most clients' management teams.
The reality is that, if you take any group of 5 managers, 1-2 are passionate about development and already run training sessions for their people (we call these the "learning champions"), 2-3 are competent enough to facilitate training if you give them the right confidence and skills….and 1 will struggle.
Few of our clients task all managers to run training sessions, and if they do, it's confined to short (60-90 minute) modules. Rather, they leverage their "learning champions", use them as a part of their "Learning User Group" to keep programs relevant, and use them as part-time facilitators or subject matter experts in workshops.
It's surprising how often companies leave this solely to line managers, isn't it? Of course, line managers must play a pivotal role in inducting new team members, but they shouldn't have to make up the whole program themselves. A typical 3 week Sales Representative Induction Program involves:
- The standard Human Resources & Corporate induction
- Early demonstration, on territory, by the Sales Manager
- "Work withs" with senior reps, who are trained to train
- 3-4 days coaching by the Sales Manager
- On-line learning with manager debriefs and specific issue coaching
- Some "solo" time, on territory in weeks 2 and 3
Then the issue is to build, step by step, to achieve full productivity within 6 months.