Learning Resolutions: Setting a Goal-Based Budget

It’s December again! Last year I wrote an article about my personal training resolutions, which you can see here. This year was indeed a hilarious year for me, as I managed to conduct training at a conference during which one of the teambuilding exercises involved playing a game of contact soccer while wrapped in truly absurd amounts of bubble wrap (true story, by the way, and exactly as amusing as it sounds).

This year, however, I’d like to focus on what I’m hoping will be good resolutions for you and your training department. All across the land, training departments are preparing their 2015 budgets. I can only assume this is a grueling process that involves being poked with swords or dipped into piranha tanks, because I can’t count the number of times I’ve had conversations with prospective clients along these lines: “So what we need is a comprehensive training solution, fully compatible with and complementary to our existing training but with a distinctive edge that will really make it pop, and we need it yesterday. Oh, and it can’t cost more than $11. Maybe $12 if we’re really wowed by what you come up with, but we’re shooting for $11. Actually under $10 would be nice.”

In my experience, training budgets are hard to acquire and easy to discard, especially when more pressing matters crop up, and ‘more pressing’ is often defined as ‘literally anything else, up to and including management’s desire to install a giant Ferris wheel in the lobby.’ So this year, as you think about what training you want to implement or update, consider the following two questions.

What Benefits Can This Training Actually Bring?

Too often this question is answered with ‘I have no idea,’ or else people think that training is being done for its own sake and without any tangible benefits to the company. So try as best as possible to quantify the value of the training in question. The Ken Blanchard company, for example, recently released a whitepaper showing that bad leadership can cost an organization around 7% of its annual revenue in terms of lost productivity and employee turnover. So if you’re considering some leadership training that costs less than 7% of your annual revenue, you might look at that as a money-saving plan, rather than a frustrating expenditure.

How Will This Training Reflect on Our Culture?

In many ways, the training you offer is a direct reflection of your company’s attitude toward its employees. A company that engages in no training is setting the expectation that everyone should figure it all out on their own – hardly the best message to be sending to eager employees who know they need the chance to grow. A company that engages in bland, boring, or oppressive training is telling people that their job is probably going to be bland, boring, and oppressive. A company that offers training only to its entry-level employees is saying that the work itself requires little more than entry-level knowledge, and its managers will be left to fend for themselves. The more energy you’re able to put into vibrant, interesting, and engaging training for your employees (and the more training that you make available through the career life cycle) the more likely your employees are to repay you with enthusiasm and loyalty.

So this year, as you’re setting your training budget, try not to think of how much money you have to spend. Think of the how much money you can save if you find the right training. Think of the kind of attitude you can instill in your team by giving them the right tools for success. Then go see if you can find all that for $11. If you can, congratulate yourself. Then give me the phone number of the person you bought it from so that I can have a short conversation with him or her on the subject of appropriate pricing.

Jeff Havens is a professional development expert who addresses leadership, generational issues, and other areas of professional development through a unique blend of content and entertainment. He has been a regular guest on Fox Business News and featured in CNBC, BusinessWeek, and Bloomberg News. To learn more about Jeff’s keynote presentations and corporate training, visit www.JeffHavens.com.