Training is about change and the sad truth is that many companies go about initiating that change in entirely the wrong way. Training is effective as the LAST step to contributing to personal and organizational change but it is rarely an effective FIRST step….Why?
Often manager’s use training as an alternative to the hard work that development requires, training requires very little time; it’s a quick fix, and a great way to look like you are addressing a change issue.
Individuals attend training courses and then go back to the same limiting environment and experience the same processes, and management behaviours, and immediately sense a disconnect between the training and how they are managed. The result, very little of that training is implemented.
Sadly the majority of training courses are standalone events. Often arranged by an administrator who has been given the task of arranging a training programme without the assistance of management, and is probably the least empowered person to have a discussion about the changes that are required.
A great number of the calls that I get are from individuals who have been provided with insufficient information or have given little thought to the skills development needs of individuals. They use phrases like “We want them to understand” or “We would like them to feel motivated” and “They should feel empowered”. Often this is followed by some questions about the methods that I might use during the training, because “It must be entertaining”.
I really don’t see that value in “Understanding” a concept such as Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence when the real difference is in the skill of applying it. No amount of “understanding” or “knowledge” can substitute skills development. Yes, I can make the training stimulating; I can engage people to the point where they take responsibility to continue to develop, I can design a set of activities that builds skills through application but I am not an entertainer or a mind reader.
In the absence of any tangible criteria to describe the behaviours that need to change, the measures of performance, and that the individuals attending the training buy into why these behaviours are critical for their roles, it is difficult to design a solution that provides the organisation with the return on investment required.
There are many training course outlines out there on the internet that represent quick fix solutions and act as a magic wand for managers who by selecting training as the first and only step towards a solution put their heads in the sand ignoring the environmental barriers.
There is no point putting on skills training if the environment provides no incentive for the behaviour. Skills development should be the last stage on the change journey. Internal metrics, benchmarks, and process improvement programmes need to be considered first the training provides the just in time development that enables an individual to operate successfully in the improved environment.
No manager should have the ability to allocate budget for training until they can demonstrate that they have explained to an individual why the training is important, the business issue that the training will impact, how the training will enable the individual to make a significant contribution and what support is available to transfer the learning.
Unless, of course you believe in the power of the magic wand.