Roger Maclean is the executive director of the Office of Educational Outreach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and has worked 20 years in the field of continuing education. Maclean, who has a doctorate in adult education, previously held multiple titles at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including associate dean for academic affairs in the Division of Continuing Studies and associate dean for executive education in the School of Business.
Q. How can a company find effective training techniques to maximize their spending?
First of all, you need to diagnose what you’re looking for. What is the issue, the problem, the opportunity that you’re trying to address? Have the sense of what it is you ideally want to accomplish. This may come from discussions with your customers; it may come from discussions with your staff or your management staff saying, ‘OK, here’s where we see gaps or weaknesses. Here’s something new that has been presented to us, and we don’t have a skill set to do it.’
Q. How do you know training is the solution?
I think sometimes it’s organizations being realistic. Training can be effective if, in fact, first of all, the organization has defined the issue, but secondly, the people that are going into the training, are they motivated to be there, do they sense the issue, and are they looking at this training opportunity as a positive growth or are they looking at it as punitive.
Q. How do you get employees to buy in to training?
This is a challenge in every organization, but it’s a matter of communication. It’s a matter of the manager or the training supervisor, whoever is leading the initiative, sitting down with the individuals that have been identified for the training and having an honest discussion. Say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re trying to achieve, do you agree?’ Asking for their input, do they see this as being an issue? It’s very basic two-way communication between management and the individuals to say, ‘OK, is this a good thing, or are we just wasting money?’