As many of you look at what’s remaining in your end-of-year training and development budgets, you might be wondering how you can make the most of left-over funds. Depending on how your budget works, you may be prepared to roll this year’s remaining money into your 2020 training budget or you could be reviewing the best possible training resources to use the money before the ball drops on 2019. Whether you use the money now or tack it on to your 2020 budget, a surplus means there’s an opportunity for you to do more to move the needle in terms of your company’s productivity and performance.

Break it Down

The best way to make sure your budget surplus gets put to good use is to break down your annual budget into monthly or quarterly allotments. Take your distribution of dollars toward all of your training and development initiatives and divide that number by 12 (monthly) or 4 (quarterly).

Then keep tabs on the needs of all the departments within your organization on a regular basis. This means not waiting until the end of the year to gather feedback from the departments about each one’s performance and/or their hang-ups. 

We talked about using trackable key performance indicators to assemble an airtight training and development budget for the year ahead. The same system for gathering and tracking this data comes in handy as part of an ongoing effort to be a good steward of the funds allocated to training. 

Joleen Goronkin, CEO of People & Performance Strategies says, “On a quarterly or a monthly basis, managers need to be aware of where they stand on performance goals, and whether there’s a surplus or a deficit in training funds.” 

Goronkin consults with HR professionals and leaders of companies about how they can effectively invest in their employees’ training and development. She explains, “One of the critical jobs of an HR professional is monitoring your company’s capacity to perform on all cylinders.” Goronkin tells her clients, “You should always be looking for what’s missing. Notice if there are gaps in the areas of sales, customer service, compliance, onboarding or elsewhere. You have to focus on the pain points to be able to make wise financial decisions.”

Set the Right Goals

When you’re setting your goals based on what you expect to achieve from your training, make sure each goal directly or indirectly increases performance. Teaching your team every detail about the company’s processes across every department may be interesting to them (or not), but if you’ve got people focused on roles that don’t touch certain departments, that kind of training isn’t going to improve performance. But showing fabrication employees how to produce goods faster with less waste, or showing customer-facing employees how to communicate more effectively, well, now you’re helping each individual raise their level of performance. That’s a game-changer. 

When you measure outcomes against your performance goals on a monthly or quarterly basis using your KPIs and feedback collection process, you’ll be able to see where you’re at risk for missing your mark. And you can give timely attention to addressing the issue instead of waiting until the end of your fiscal year when the problem could grow much worse. That means you’ll spend less of your future training budget fixing issues and more of it on employee development. Most leaders and managers can agree they’d rather spend their time and their allotted budgets on making progress instead of doing damage control. 

When you take this kind of guided approach to distributing your training budget, of course, you do run the risk of the occasional monthly or quarterly deficit. But it’s better to have the option to scale back in some non-problematic areas, for the chance to cut a problem area off at the knees. Breaking your budget down, setting performance-related goals and monitoring your course regularly helps companies make the most of their training budget, strategically using it to meet setbacks and challenges head-on. 

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