Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009 - (Page 11)

THE BUSINESS OF LEARNING | DOUG HARWARD COMPLIANCE & CERTIFICATION: TOOLS FOR GOOD BUSINESS L et me tell you a story of two separate but equal solutions: certification and compliance. Certification is the topic of the cover story in this issue of Training Industry Quarterly, and it’s a good topic. Each year, professionals in industries as diverse as IT, healthcare and automotive repair achieve certifications, undergoing a rigorous process of training and testing to prove their individual expertise and readiness for professional challenges. Then there’s compliance, a company’s certifiable fulfillment of certain policies, procedures or training based on particular industry standards. Sarbanes-Oxley, or SOX, of course is a recent example of mandated compliance we’ve all had to be aware of. If you work in a manufacturing industry, you know the word compliance as surely as you can spell OSHA. So let’s look at these two important aspects of business. Are you in compliance? Is your workforce certified? In January, published our annual predictions for the training industry’s evolution in the upcoming year. One of those predictions was that compliance training would increase. We see that not because we as training professionals like it, but rather because our constituents (management, employees and customers) want and expect it. Compliance training has become front and center in the last few years because of some very important business drivers. First, compliance is about risk mitigation. The cost of risk management—or what I like to call the cost of failure—is one of the fastest-growing expenses to corporations. Failure costs are about lost opportunities from employees not performing a task properly, or a customer not returning because they are dissatisfied with a product they didn’t understand how to properly use. Compliance is also about legal costs, especially about avoiding them. When the corporation is sued because employees were not properly trained to perform their duties, or when customers are injured, knowledge arrives too late. Alarming is the fact that one lawsuit could cost a business far more in legal and penalty fees than preventive training itself would. This drives corporate executives to want definitive measures to know that employees and customers are fully aware of the expectations and skills requirements, as well as documentation that they have been properly trained and tested to demonstrate their awareness and skill knowledge. Certification has its own drivers, not the least among them being performance improvement. Certification has proven to drive an individual’s performance because it helps them to better understand what is expected of them. The awareness that they will be assessed against those expectations effectively increases their level of performance, thus improving the financial implications to the business. Another driver for certification is the learner himself or herself, and the improvement in morale of the professionals being certified. The more credentials we have, the more we are respected and admired in our organization, and perhaps even in ourselves. It improves the potential of job retention, and of course increases our opportunities for career advancement and sustainability. This provides security and self-actualization, resulting in higher levels of morale, performance and job satisfaction. As with compliance training, the implementation of job certifications has slowed in the past few years. I believe it has to do with some people being fearful. On one hand, employers can fear that the certification of knowledge simply arms an employee for a broader job search. On another hand, the fear of improperly testing and evaluating skills can be prevalent, since organizations could be under scrutiny to provide additional documentation that proved tests were validated and credible, and lacked signs of discrimination. No doubt these concerns are still valid, but in some cases the act of omission may be a much greater risk. I hope you’ll take some time to consider certification and compliance training in your organization, to ensure you’re doing both all that you must do and all that you should do. Remember that in addition to being the wise choice, certification is also a marketable advantage in attracting and retaining the best employees, and it can be a shiny lure to reel in the savvy customer as well. Think about that old saying, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Can you afford to be non-compliant and uncertified? Doug Harward is CEO of Training Industry, Inc., and a former learning leader in the high-tech industry. E-mail Doug at 11 Training Industry Quarterly, Spring 2009 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009
The American Heart Association: Learn and Live
Winning Organizations Through People
The Business of Learning
Learning Technologies
Best Practices for Certification Training
7 Strategies for Employee Self-Development
Learning Today: Collaborative, Social and Learner-Driven
Driving Corporate Performance through Learning Partnerships
Meet Dale Towery
Meet Milynda Weis
The American Heart Association: Learn and Live
Closing Arguments

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009