Training vs. Development: Why Companies Need Both

The terms training and development are often used interchangeably. However, there are unique differences between the two. Both are important to an organization’s success, especially today as employees seek to learn and grow in their roles. Research indicates that 25% of employees leave their organization because there are not enough learning and development opportunities. The best organizations use both to engage and retain their employees. Clearly defining these terms is the foundation for developing a strategy for each. Let’s start with training.

Training is centered around the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed to perform a job. This includes specific behavioral or technical skills, such as customer service or sales skills. Training is essential to enable staff to succeed in their job. Have you ever started a new job and were told to figure it out? A lack of training can cause mistakes and frustration for the employee, their coworkers, and the customers. Training increases confidence, performance, and retention. At SGEi, we recommend following the 60/20/20 rule for training. 60% of learning should be done on the job (i.e., experiential), 20% of learning should be through formal trainings, and 20% from on-the-job coaching. We also recommend focusing training on the company’s values and expected behaviors. By reinforcing the organization’s expectations, you not only enhance performance, but also the overall culture.

It is important to spend the time developing and executing a training plan to ensure employees are well equipped to do their job well. Trainings should have specific criteria or objectives. Consider who will be trained, where the training will take place, and how you will measure the effectiveness of the training. When it comes to who should train employees, everyone should have a hand in training, not just HR or a lead trainer. Managers must be involved in the process to provide feedback and ensure the plan is being executed. Let’s talk development.

Development is based on providing the knowledge and skills that will help a person grow in their career. Development is future-focused and helps with performance and retention. When an employee has a clear career path at the organization, he/she is less likely to seek out other job opportunities. Having regular conversations with your employees about their career goals is critical to ensuring you provide the right types of developmental opportunities. For a more comprehensive approach, consider Fuel 50’s ( platform that helps identify the employee’s values, goals, and objectives for a better understanding of each individual.

Development has received increasing attention as Millennials expand their presence in the workforce. Research from AON Hewitt indicates that Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020. This generation expects organizations to provide continuous opportunities for learning and growing, which means that organizations will have to adapt to ensure they are meeting the needs of the modern workforce. So, what can you do to help develop employees?

Development can take form through developmental training. This could mean providing employees with formal internal trainings, internal learning libraries,, university courses, or MOOCs. At SGEi, we provide a memorable, motivating, and effective leadership series designed to prepare current and future supervisors and managers to excel in their roles. While providing continuous learning is an important part of development, there are other factors that go into development. I recently read a blog that provides useful tips for strengthening development programs. Here are some key points:

Offer mentorship: Mentorship is a great way for an employee to develop their knowledge and skills. Having regular one-on-one conversations with your employees will provide you with insights to their future career goals. Carve out some time to work with the employee to show them your role and explain how they can get to where they want to be. If you are not able to mentor the employee personally, consider a colleague or professional contact that would be a good mentor. You can also check out Everwise ( to help pair employees with mentors in their field.

Think outside of the department: Exposing employees to different departments not only helps them feel connected to the big picture, but it also provides them with a learning opportunity. Connect the employee with an individual in another department and have them do a structured shadowing, one that includes the opportunity to see different tasks. Follow up with the employee and ask them what they learned and if they would be interested in a role in another department. If so, make a plan for how they can get there. If not, consider another department that may be better aligned with their career goals.

Measure progress: As with training, it is important to measure the effectiveness of different development programs. Consider what programs lead to the highest retention and employee growth. Ensure that the programs are well supported with the proper resources. Development is an ongoing commitment to your employees; it is important to them, and therefore, should be a priority for you.

At SGEi, we focus on creating and delivering trainings that are memorable, motivating, and effective. Connect with us today to see how we can help your organization!

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