Is your training budget too reactive, proactive or just right

Derek Robertson.jpg

Derek Robertson, CEO

(Chartered FCIPD, MCMI, MInstLM, NLP Practitioner and Coach)

Author of The Great Cape Escapade (A fable about effective meetings)


Remember Golidlocks and the three bears?  She did her research before she know things were just right.  

It’s vital to invest your precious training budget where it adds most value to your organisation.  As the person responsible to your senior team, showing the right shape of your spend is as important as proving the results afterward.

Let’s look together at a super simple way to see your planned training profile on the way to informed decisions.

Strategic training planning

Taking a helicopter view of your training is too often absent from budget rounds.  Proving a correct profile to your company training plan helps you becoming a boardroom hero . . . and keeps you there.

Where are you as a business?

The growing businesses

Everyone’s energies are full throttle on getting business in and customer fulfilment.  It’s common here for processes including people development to be in catch up mode.  The result is reactive training spend.

The mature business

With all the procedures in place there is an efficient process.  There can also be inertia and lack of challenge, especially when delivery such as mandatory training is included without much thought.  That risks blind spots.  An HR Manager was very proud of their significant training budget.  Then shock took over as after doing the following activity.  What they uncovered was that over 70% of it went on mandatory training.  Training that added nothing to the business except compliance while squeezing resources for other programmes.

Seeing development in four budgets

To see the shape of your intended training spend break it down into these four budgets:

  Maintenance Reactive

Correcting job performance failures

For example: Needs only identified and addressed after a report shows customer complaints are up 7% on last year.

Helping people cope with new work.

For example: New software arrives and resources directed to assessing people’s learning needs and addressing them.


Avoiding job performance failures.

For example: Annual refresher training in using the SPIN sales model.

Helping people to prepare for future roles.

For example: The organisation sees the effective management of different age groups and thinking styles as a key skill for team leaders in the future.


What to do

1.     Place your intended programmes in the correct box.

2.     Add each one’s resources time, money both.

3.     Work out each box’s percentage of the total.

4.     Think and reflect on the data.

5.     Action what you’ve found out.

Examples in action

Scenario #1










Organisation strategy: Maintain service delivery while reducing costs.

Conclusion: Surprise at the split.

Decided to: To deliver the reactive maintenance using less resource and direct what’s saved between proactive maintenance and reactive development.

Scenario #2










Organisation strategy: Preparing transformational change to the business.

Conclusion: Celebrate that the exercise confirmed board expectations.

Decided to: Promote the head of HR to HR Director.

Your takeaway

To become and stay a boardroom hero you owe it to your stakeholders, staff and customers to invest your training budget wisely.

Your next action

Download our helper.  It takes you through the process described here.  It’s called The simplest way ever to see where your training budget goes

Do the activity with your team and action the results.

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