Britain is facing one of the worst skills shortages in Europe. As the economy starts to recover, this lack of essential skills will start to strain. But although businesses understand the importance of training, less than 12 per cent of HR professionals expect annual training and development budgets to increase in the next year.

The problem, according to John Wellwood, Managing Director of 100% Effective, is that there is not enough focus on how training aligns with business objectives and very few people are measuring the return on their investment in learning and development.

“That’s why training gets such a bad reputation. Because, actually, if you can make the link between the training course and business improvement, why would you not put more people in training?”

What’s the issue?

The risks of poorly-planned and executed training are great. No matter what a training course costs to undertake, the outlay of both time and money have been wasted if the training is not applied and leveraged when the delegate returns to work. In order for lessons to be put into practice, the training needs to be targeted to the individual’s role and current skill set.

“It has to be targeted, it has to be planned, it has to be prepared and that’s the only way you can get a good return on investment or successful development of people,” John explains.

Setting the objectives

To give training a focus, and take the first steps to securing a return, organisations need to decide on their objectives for it. Why is the individual attending the course? What are the anticipated outcomes? Will it improve the bottom line or enhance productivity?

Securing buy-in

Only by discussing the objectives, can organisations create a roadmap. Goals for the training should be closely aligned with the wider business objectives to really leverage the best return on investment. Research by PEX found that of the companies with the most successful process excellence initiatives, more than half said they considered it to be a way to help them deliver their strategic goals. This suggests those with a more holistic view, are better equipped to build on the training.

Similarly, a study by Aberdeen Group in 2006, sponsored by Minitab, revealed that organisations that implemented Six Sigma methodologies properly, saw a 40 per cent greater cost saving than those who only applied some aspects of the learning.

Securing buy-in

In order to have these business strategy-led conversations, however, decisions about training need to have senior buy-in. Whether it’s an ad hoc training session suggested by an individual, or an on-going commitment to sending staff on a particular course, senior managers and line managers need to be involved in the discussion surrounding training and it’s alignment with business objectives from the start.

Businesses that ensure everyone understands the motivations behind the training, John suggests, find that there are more time and resources freed up to help make it a success. To get buy in and get the ball rolling, it all comes back to return on investment and that means ensuring training will help meet business goals.

Find out how 100% Effective can help you secure senior buy-in to make your Lean Six Sigma training as successful as possible. Follow us on Twitter or sign up to our newsletter to receive regular updates.