Shopping Without A Purpose

In order for the learning function to achieve results, it is vital that the reason for training is crystal clear.  I firmly believe that before any training solution is applied that we must know what the changed behavior will look like.  We must be able to trace the behavior change to an improvement in the job results.  If we can’t do these things, and head off to the training store, we are shopping without a purpose.

Many of us will roam the shopping mall just window shopping.  We are looking, but not for anything in particular.  We are in an impulse shopping mode, which is the store’s marketing department’s goal to get us to buy something we had not planned to buy.

Training should never be shopping without a purpose, and in today’s economy especially, what an utter waste of time and money to be sitting in a marketing webinar, surfing the internet, or talking with sales representatives about training programs that may or may not help move the organization forward.

The other day I was talking to a window shopper who was enamored by every twinkling light she saw in this training store window.  When asked what performance area she was seeking to improve in the workplace, she began to rattle off an array of things she wanted to do.

I asked her for the number one priority, and she said “everything” is on the to do list.  So I rephrased my question to the most important task, and once again I was told “everything.”  When I tried a third time by asking her which item will have the greatest impact and if ignored could cost her job, bingo, she picked one.

Have you ever gone shopping for more than one person in the same trip, and you had no idea what to get anybody?  She was just this focused about spending her company’s training dollars.  What happens is that people will either purchase the shiniest object they find, or give up completely.

In my book, The Training Physical, I spend a lot of time encouraging training managers to completely define their objectives before shopping or looking at any training solution.  Not every sales representative is going to help people with this step, as it is their job to sell their products. 

If a training manager is shopping without a purpose, they will ultimately buy something and the purpose will be defined by the vendor.  The same as the store window in the mall will demonstrate why you must buy what they are selling too!

And for those who believe “learning about new programs” is a good use of your time before you need to implement things, I would like to encourage you to spend your time focusing on implementing your training plan, or you could find yourself implementing your resume instead.


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