Competency vs. Compliance: Embracing Training as an Investment
There is a perfect storm going on in the utility industry that is shifting the way organizations approach training:
- Technology is changing the way employees do work at a faster rate than the industry has ever seen.
- The workforce has to be equipped to service and maintain heterogeneous pieces of equipment.
- 40 to 50% of the utility industry’s employees are eligible to retire over the next few years.
PG&E and other leading utilities are on a journey to transform the way they do training. According to Chris Pickett, Senior Director of Training at PG&E, transformational training is:
- A shift away from looking at training as an expense that needs to be managed, and toward valuing it as an integral, strategic advantage for the company.
- Training people to competently do the work the company is relying on them to do, instead of focusing on passing tests to meet compliance obligations.
- Designing, developing and delivering training that is “best in class,” not just “good enough.”
- Measuring effectiveness through business outcomes, not transactions (hours of training, etc).
Pillars of Training Excellence
In 2011, PG&E hired Mosaic to do an independent study of their training for the gas business. Mosaic selected over 20 pipeline companies and gas utilities across North America to benchmark, and conducted an internal analysis of PG&E’s gas operations training. The result was a three-year roadmap for PG&E to move to “best in class” training.
Key insights from the independent study:
- Not one utility does everything well with respect to training.
- There is a tendency for companies to focus on what they’re
good at, and do more of that, instead of having a more balanced approach.
Balance across what Mosaic calls the Pillars of Best-in-Class Training is the key to success. Leading utilities are focusing on each of these pillars, and moving all eight elements forward together, which results in continuous improvement that leads to best in class.
Training is a Strategic Investment
Key takeaways from Chris Pickett, Senior Director of Training at PG&E:
- Training is always going to be expensive.
- Training needs to be aligned to tangible business outcomes. Otherwise, it will always be about expense.
- Thinking about training as an investment has to be part of the DNA of a company, and it has to start at the top.
- Training has to be run by the business and tightly aligned with business objectives and priorities to demonstrate ROI.
- If the way you measure training effectiveness demonstrates competence, it will change the mindset of your organization.