Run your training department like a business

Can you measure your training department's ROI for your company? Bob Potemski reviews a book that will help your training organization thrive in a bottom-line-oriented enterprise.

Don’t be misled by the title of this book, Running Training Like a Business: Delivering Unmistakable Value, by David van Adelsberg and Edward A. Trolley. It’s not about the day-to-day mechanics of running a training operation. What this book will tell you, however, is how to achieve a Return on Investment (ROI) for the dollars your company pumps into training its employees each year.
Running Training Like a Business: Delivering Unmistakable Value By David van Adelsberg and Edward A. TrolleyPublished by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1999Price: $19.55218 pages; hardcoverISBN 1576750590
Attention trainers and training managers
Three features make this book valuable for trainers and training managers. First, the authors document the significance of their data. According to van Adelsberg and Trolley, $56 billion per year is spent on training programs in the United States alone. With such a large investment at stake, business executives are demanding increased accountability from both internal and external training functions. Specifically, senior management wants to ensure that training is centered on areas that will provide ROI that can be measured and reflected on the company’s balance sheets.

Second, the book explains the paradigm shift necessary for training to become more effective and more bottom-line oriented. Because training has its roots in education and not business, training departments define learning as mastering classroom content. Business leaders, on the other hand, define learning as “improving job skills.” The authors contend that pure trainers tend to dismiss such skill-oriented training as vocational. But, in order to run their training departments like businesses, trainers and training managers need to shift from an academic focus to a business one, and all training content must be linked to business strategy.

Third, the book illustrates how to put this new paradigm for training into action. I found this nuts-and-bolts approach exceptionally useful as a working model for organizational change.

My final take
I found the book interesting and useful. I liked how the authors put a real-life perspective on their theoretical framework by including numerous examples of changes made in corporate training environments, as well as quotes from clients. The epilog and appendices are full of helpful charts, graphs, worksheets, and checklists designed to help readers transform their current training function into one that is both customer- and results-driven.

I recommend Running Training Like a Business: Delivering Unmistakable Value to all trainers, training managers, and business leaders under whose umbrella training and development fall.

Bob Potemski, MS, CTT, is a writer and trainer transplanted from New York. He and his five dogs now make their home in the Midwest. Bob has a bachelor's degree in science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in counseling from Long Island University. He has spent the last 10 years working in human development.

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