For the last few years, the world has suffered a pandemic that has forced us to separate from meaningful human connection and temporarily pause our professional goals. The last few years have been a struggle for everyone, particularly those in a corporate setting.  The COVID-19 event has presented Corporate America with a perfect opportunity to evaluate and realign the understanding of who they are, what they believe, and how they want to foster their company’s culture. Training and development have never been more critical than today—especially for companies rebuilding from the recent global pandemic.

As a Certified Associate of Talent Development (ATD) Performance Consultant, Nichole Vasser, CEO of AleJone Educational Consulting and Coaching and Associate Faculty at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), opens up to us about why that is and how we can continue cultivating a growth-oriented environment in our workplace.

What is the difference between training and development?

When thinking about training, I’m instantly transported back to my first day at my first job as a Fast-Food Cashier when I was 16 years old. I received “On-The-Job” training in the back of the kitchen to learn how to place food properly on a tray or in a bag before handing it to a customer.

Nichole explains that training is short-term role-specific learning that can happen in a classroom or a skill-based environment. Simply, training is learning how to do a specific task or function. Development, however, is learning how to handle concepts and manage conflict or problems solving. This is done in a much slower-paced, long-term coaching or mentoring environment. Employee development takes time and investment and is sometimes saved for higher performers.

What is the value and use of training in the workplace?

Training is valuable because it increases morale & engagement, improves self-efficiency, boosts productivity & performance, streamlines consistent processes, prepares employees, and increases customer satisfaction.

Training can be used in many ways:

  1. It’s used to help new hires understand and learn their role.
  2. It’s necessary for compliance and employment law.
  3. It can be helpful when introducing or implementing new functions and systems in a company.
  4. It bridges the gap between skills and knowledge.

When is training NOT the answer?

When a company is experiencing organizational barriers, like when managers & team members don’t communicate openly or if there is a high amount of distrust within an organization, training may not always be the best way to handle this issue. In this situation, more training could further hinder a team member from expressing concerns about a particular project or asking for help with a specific task. Instead, this is an instance when you may need to employ coaching and mentoring for your managers so that they can build trust with their team members.

Another example of when training is not the answer is productivity is low due to low morale. Instead of training employees on how to do tasks, the focus should be more on how to create a morale-boosting environment within the company.

What is the value and use of development in the workplace?

As I mentioned before, development tends to be reserved for higher performers. This is because higher performers have already displayed a desire to grow. Although you can train anyone to possess a specific skill set, you can’t teach someone to have the motivation necessary to develop. So to prevent wasting resources on developing unmotivated team members, a company may evaluate that individual’s drive and hunger for growth.

Development, when awarded to motivated, growth-minded team members, can be beneficial in the workplace for various reasons:

  1. Succession Planning – This is identifying the critical positions within your organization and developing plans for individuals to assume those positions.
  2. Leadership Development – Development can be used to coach and mentor team members on managing others and building teams. It also teaches leaders how to handle unexpected situations.
  3. Career Growth- Development can include crucial soft skills that boost an employee’s performance. (i.e., people skills, public speaking, organization, etc.)
  4. Company Goal Achievement – Development is helpful to give leaders the necessary tools for project management, goal & progress tracking, and other skills that move the company forward.
  5. Improves Engagement – Knowing that a company has processes to help employees grow can help is a natural morale booster. It also opens up the lines of communication between employees and management. Employees want to know that their needs are heard, and their ambitions are cared about, so development can be seen as a “company benefit.”

How can you be an employee who grows faster, and gets rewarded with more development opportunities?

At the end of our incredible session with Nichole, she gives helpful tips on how to get on your employer’s radar to be awarded more development opportunities. Her answer was to seek those opportunities out. When an employee asks their manager, “What can I do to be a top performer? How do I receive more development opportunities?” they display a hunger to grow. This is the type of hunger that managers look for when they’re willing to invest in their team.

As a Learning & Development Assistant for a people & culture-focused company, I can tell you first-hand that there isn’t a shortage of people looking to grow and develop professionally. Every month, I schedule, manage, and deliver training to corporate professionals who truly want to thrive in their careers and genuinely want to contribute their talents to the company because of the training and development opportunities we provide them. When an employer invests in their employees, most of those individuals will return that investment back into their company. This, however, is a two-way street. As much as a company should be providing these opportunities, much to Nichole’s point, employees also need to be showing a desire to grow.

Rachel Cardwell

Director of Communications & Social Media

Forbes School of Business & Technology SHRM Chapter