Why Training Intake Processes Are Failing L&D

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Employees are more empowered than ever. They want to choose their own devices, physical work location, and other components of their work lives. They also want to choose their own training. But current training intake processes are limiting the potential for L&D to provide the best value possible to stakeholders.

Traditionally, rank-and-file employees couldn’t make a formal request to the L&D department. They had to first ask their manager, who would “think about it,” and maybe, just maybe, the request would go up the flagpole to the training manager in charge.

As frustrating as it was for the employee, it was equally frustrating for L&D. A request for training would be sent via email to one individual in the L&D department or to a generic email address (i.e., training@company.com), or casually requested in a face-to-face meeting.

These requests would then simply be tracked in a spreadsheet. These lists would grow in size and varied in the information available. Learning leaders could only estimate how many people would benefit from the training, or what impact the training would have on the company’s bottom line.

To address this issue and better track success, a digitized, streamlined training intake process has been emerging. The system is essentially a process for receiving and evaluating training requests from all employees across the organization.

This standardized approach to training requests can help the L&D department to surface interest in particular learning and strategically set priorities.

Training requests also jumpstart the instructional design process because much of the analysis is performed and delivered along with the request.

However, let’s have a further look at how current offline training intake processes are failing L&D teams that do not have a formal training intake process in place.

training requests processes

1. Training requests are too informal and arbitrary

The current informal nature of training requests—emails, sticky notes, conversations in the hallway—most likely ensures that the training will not be created or delivered adequately, if at all.

Like any general employee request—from more parking spaces in the garage to a choice of building access cards—if it isn’t well-thought-out and presented to management in a compelling way, then it will not be taken seriously.

A training intake process includes a standard set of questions that force both sides to think more deeply about the importance and viability of the request.

“We need to be in the initial conversation if we are really going to add value.
When requests come to us later in the process there is no room for us to consult or to verify that the solution is addressing the real issue.”

Joanne, L&D Senior Manager

2. One employee holds all of the decision-making

Further, with the haphazard way that training requests are sent to the training department, the decision to go ahead with building a course usually falls to one person. This not only is overwhelming for that one manager, but it also keeps the selection criteria limited to that one person. In other words, others should have visibility into all requests that come in, and should have a say in which course gets built and which does not.

In a training request system, the L&D team develops a scoring system, which assigns scores based on the information provided by the requester. It does not just give an automatic acceptance or rejection based on automated rules; with additional human input and feedback, the whole department can play a role in greenlighting or rejecting a training idea.

training intake processes

3. Poor communications, with no contingency plans in place

And what exactly happens when a training request gets lost or rejected? Currently, it’s the proverbial ‘black hole’—the requester has no idea if his or her voice was heard.

With a training intake process, requesters can finally find out what happened to their request. If it does happen to get rejected, he or she can learn why, and the L&D team can offer alternative or contingency plans so that the employee can obtain the training needed.

4. Data and Insights

As an internal service function, L&D has a lot of moving parts to contend with, especially when it comes to managing training requests from different departments.

How can L&D prioritize requests with the most strategic value to the organization while making sure every department has the learning solutions they need?

A large part of the inefficiencies around the management of training intake lies in the lack of tracking available.

“I would love our request process to be more formal because we don’t have a lot of data on them.
We don’t have data on how many sales training requests we get, how many I.T. requests we get.
So I really have no reporting under the current process.”

Synapse client

The blame cannot solely be laid at the door of L&D as current processes are simply not up to speed. Without the right tools and technology in place, the only tracking possible usually involves inconsistently maintained spreadsheets.

With employees seeming to drive the training function, leaders must find a way to set priorities and develop a process to decide which course gets built and which does not. With a process or system in place, everyone wins.

Digital tracking and automation are needed desperately. As employees continue to ask for training in the workplace—94 percent of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report—L&D departments can quickly become overwhelmed.

Further, employees don’t just want any training—they want to be able to choose the learning they feel is most valuable to them. This training is not only important for them to do their jobs better but is also important to what they feel is their greater professional development.

If you want to read more about leveraging the training intake process
for strategic success, check out this free ebook!

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