Training and Development: Top 7 Reasons Why Training Doesn't Produce the Desired Results
By Kevin Eikenberry
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As managers, leaders and change agents, we want to improve our organizational performance. Often training is seen as an important tool in this pursuit. It can provide awareness, knowledge, skills and maybe even a chance to practice. However, all of our change efforts aren’t nails, so training isn’t our only tool. This special report identifies seven common reasons why training doesn’t meet it's goals - even when it is the right tool.
- The “Who’s Accountable?” Game
People rarely are held accountable for using what they learned in a course or workshop when they get back to the workplace. So some people recognize going to training as a game. That’s why training is seldom seen (by anyone in the organization) as what it could and should be - a strategic part of the business, with responsibility for performance enhancement. Regardless of how training is viewed, if people aren’t held accountable, how likely is it that real performance change will occur?
- The Cafeteria Cause - “Course du Jour”
Often training has no connection to the strategic objectives of the organization. Whether true or not, the prevalent perception in the organization is that there is no rhyme or reason to the latest training course. This cause is called “Course du Jour” because often organizations offer new training just like some people try new diets. New business books (and accompanying “hot” new training topics) are published with the frequency of new diet plans - and the similarities continue! With the fad popular diets, people hear about the new approach, buy the book, get excited, try the diet, and soon leave it - usually before they received any real benefit. The same thing happens in an organization. The new training topic, approach, idea or craze is tried and dropped before results can occur.. There’s usually nothing wrong with the training introduced, but usually it isn’t supported in the organization - or given the time to work. In these instances, the company is wasting time and money and confusing the majority of the employees. Maybe most costly however is the risk of fostering cynicism and reducing the credibility of leadership.
- The Piling on the Work Paradigm
Many times managers and leaders see training as an expensive waste of time. When they attend classes, they continually think about all the work that is piling up “back in the office”. Their employees see this attitude through their leader’s actions. This thinking grows because leaders don’t explain the reasons for the course and don’t help people deal with the workload while they are gone. People may resent having to be in the training because they don’t understand why they’re there, and they know they’ll have to work harder when they get back to the job to catch up. In this situation the participants may leave more cynical than when they arrived, with few if any new skills to counteract that possible effect.
- The January Third Application Assignment
Well designed training with motivated learners will result in people leaving training with some clear ideas about how they plan to apply what they’ve learned back on the job. But well intentioned as those plans might be, they may be no more effective than most New Year’s Resolutions. Old habits are hard to break! Habits are especially hard to break when there is no support for the new skills and behaviors back in the workplace.
- The Sleepwear Syndrome - “One-Size-Fits-All”
Often times a T-shirt or sleepwear is designed to be “one size-fits-all” and serves its purpose. Training isn’t sleepwear and probably won’t be effective that way. Look at it this way: though all the teen-age kids might wear one size of sweatshirt to school, would people wear the same size suit or skirt to work? If they did, would they look as good or perform well? In other words, one-size-fits-all garments aren’t all that versatile for different situations. The same is true for training in the workplace. Too often, generic, across-the-board training is administered. The basic premise with this syndrome is that “We’ll give it to everyone - to be fair - maybe everyone doesn't need this information or lack the skills, but at least we will make sure we don’t leave anyone out.” In reality often management doesn’t really know who needs the new skills and knowledge.
- The Lone Ranger Situation
Often people are sent to training as a perk, a reward, or as a way to get them in a new surrounding for awhile. In most cases, people in a team or work group may never all see the same training, except for the “Course du Jour” or “One-Size-Fits-All” variety. Some times people need specific skills to perform a specific part of their work. Often though, the “perk” training workshops are for skills many people in the group could use (or maybe they’ll all be sent over-time; after all, everyone can’t be gone at once.) The result? People come back to work in a vacuum. Not only are they not accountable (Reason Number One above), but no one they work with has the same new skills and knowledge that they do. Without support, as a Lone Ranger, the new ideas they bring back may not get implemented due to peer resistance or ignorance.
- The “Name That Tune” Game
This problem arises when, in the name of expediency or efficiency, training time is compacted. Trainers are asked to “Name That Tune” (or complete the training) in shorter and shorter time blocks. This show starts with “The Management Team only needs an overview”, and ends with training being designed to fit a time slot, as opposed to being designed to build specific skills. The typical result of the “Name That Tune - shorten the session for my people Game”, is training that is little more that exposure to a topic area - not training which can transfer real skills, with real practice time in the classroom.
©1999, All Rights Reserved, Kevin Eikenberry. Kevin is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company that helps their Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. Go to [http://www.kevineikenberry.com/training/training.asp] to learn more about our customized training service offered or contact Kevin at toll free 888.LEARNER / Kevin@KevinEikenberry.com.
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Article Submitted On: December 12, 2004