Abbey National demonstrated a clear correlation between training and business needs and was named a highly praised runner-up
For a company employing 30,000 people and continuing to grow through new acquisitions, Abbey National faces major challenges in delivering consistent and cost-effective training.
But it appears to be succeeding, thanks in large part to an impressive project management approach to training programmes, intelligent use of its intranet to highlight training issues and a big emphasis on coaching and mentoring.
It also takes evaluation of training seriously. Award judge Professor Mike Campbell says, "So many organisations don't take evaluation seriously or even do much in aligning the training and business strategies. But Abbey National appears to have put a lot of thought into these areas."
Aligning training with business objectives is achieved through the company's project management approach to training initiatives.
Award judge Andrew Forrest says, "Abbey National has a rigorous system of project management that helps it prioritise training needs, and the training department is very focused and professionally run."
Neville Pritchard, head of group training and development, says the project management approach enables the training department to work in tandem with business units in identifying training priorities. Training managers have responsibility for particular business units and will liaise with senior managers in those units to regularly discuss training needs.
"We have training forums around the organisation, where business managers and trainers get together to discuss issues," Pritchard says.
A template is used whenever new training is considered, such as when a new product is launched. This looks at the purpose of the training and the expected impact on performance, which may be increasing income or saving costs or simply providing a better services to customers.
One project he highlights was the training involved in merging elements of the customer service department and telesales staff in Liverpool last year, which led to telesales increasing loans business by 164 per cent and insurance business by 294 per cent in the month following the training.
Projects are also followed up with line managers. "In the case of the telesales programme we asked the line managers three or four m