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Why L&D is a Hard Sell

"What is the ROI for this training session?" I am sure you have been asked this many times. The truth? One-off training sessions probably have zero ROI.

For any training or learning to stick, it needs constant repetition and application. So when the question comes, I reply precisely just that.

We hadn't attended one reading and math class and knew how to read and count. We studied and practised them for years. So why do organisations claim ROI for training they are willing to invest in once? Because they are told that everything must have an ROI which is fine, but they are not told that we cannot harvest wheat with one rain a year.

The annual "We provide you with training and learning opportunities" 1-3 times a year is why L&D finds it hard to show ROI, and because they cannot show it, companies will not invest in more and keep it as a tickbox exercise. This is the vicious cycle we have ended up in.

To break that cycle, we must make organisations understand that only continuous watering will yield ROI, just like training on the job. People repeat the task, and there you are after a month or so, they can work independently.

We know that behavioural training and leadership programs take months of repetition and application for them to work. Yet, we expect leaders to go for a 2 - days session, enter the room in circles and come out as squares.

It is not going to happen. If you want to bake bread, you must water that wheat daily for months, then look at the ROI. It works, L&D works, but it is not a magic department. It is more of a farmer's kind of hard work where you must attend to that crop every day for it to grow.

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