Reinvent Training: Strategic, Not Reactive

Training is facing an identity crisis. So says Ronald Sims, professor of business administration, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., and author of Reinventing Training and Develop-ment (Quorum Books, 1999). "The U.S. corporate mind-set does not understand the importance of investing in people," says Sims, who adds that the other half of the problem is the folks who run the training. "They have to become more responsible for showing how training adds value."

Training, declares Sims, can no longer be considered an emergency measure, or a perk to be eliminated when profits head south, but rather an essential process for helping an organization stay on track. "Historically, training and development have been reactive, not a way to give a company a competitive edge," Sims says. "In bad times, they're the first things to be cut."

Reinventing training and development, he says, involves more than measuring what skills students have learned. "We should be measuring the impact by showing lower absenteeism, increased morale, or greater productivity. For top management to recognize their value, training and development have to be tied to a company's strategic perspective."