This post is republished with permission from Linda’s Corner — a blog from Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of National Council for Behavioral Health. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 


In his compelling Hot Spotters piece in the New Yorker a few years ago, Atul Gawande featured an innovative doctor who changed the face of health care in one Atlantic City clinic. Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle dared to rethink care delivery—and then hired with his new vision in mind.

He built a team of what he termed “health coaches,” noting that their most important attribute was “a knack for connecting with sick people, and understanding their difficulties … Few had clinical experience. [Gawande] asked each of the coaches what he or she had done before working in the Special Care Center. One worked the register at a Dunkin’ Donuts. Another was a Sears retail manager. A third was an administrative assistant at a casino.”

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More than ever before, the nature of our business requires us to—in Dr. Fernandopulle’s words—“recruit for attitude and train for skill.”

Whether you provide mental health or addiction services, child or social services, or community health care, training is essential to what you do. Staff training and development opportunities are critical pieces of service quality and, frankly, organizational sustainability.

And executives know that.

A new report from Relias Learning found that 90% of executives/senior managers believe their training budget should be substantially higher and 47% are hopeful that their development and training budgets will increase in the next few years.

The challenge is to increase the scope and efficacy of training, while controlling costs.

So, what does the future hold for training?

Organizations need to do more. Rapid industry change, clinical advancements, and increasing regulatory requirements are forcing organizations to expand the volume and scope of what staff must be trained on. Organizations understand that learning is ongoing and not even the best graduate programs can produce staff ready to meet all demands. This challenges organizations to balance time, resources and competing priorities. Keeping the training needs of staff front and center is vital to getting and keeping a competitive edge.

Technology is expanding training delivery options. Online training can be done anywhere at any time giving staff flexibility and maximizing time available for direct service. No organization could offer the array or consistent quality of trainings found in an online library. Most recently, blended training has gained recognition as a best practice. Combining the content of an online course with real time interaction and coaching can be the best of all worlds. Given budgetary pressures and service delivery expectations, adopting a technology solution to training staff is a must.

Training improves outcomes. Training is no longer about “checking a box”—it’s about behavior change and improved outcomes for people and for organizations. As we hire for talent and train for skills, we’re investing in people –the people employed and the people served. Competition for staff is fierce and recruitment is expensive. The definition of a learning organization is one that invests in staff and has clear expectations about skill development. It’s a place where staff development is a priority and people served get the very best of care.

Read the new report from Relias Learning, The State of Training 2015.