Training is NOT a Punishment!


I was helping a client look for a one-off training solution this week for a single employee.  Given that I was talking to a Human Resources Manager, I assumed the purpose of the training had been identified as an appropriate performance solution without asking the question of why only one person was getting training.  It turned out that the saying “you should never assume” applied rather well this time.

Yes, I walked right into a situation that training did not apply and thankfully the particular training solution I was trying to find in the delivery method they asked for was not available.  So it gave me the opportunity to ask why training was needed.  This is when I found out that the identified employee had been disciplined for an inappropriate act and training was their punishment.

When I heard the word punishment I nearly lost my teeth!  This person had the skills to perform correctly, they understood the rules, laws and issues related to perform correctly, the just choose not to do it correctly one day.  So the solution involved a disciplinary write-up AND training.

You can bet the employee will see no benefit in taking another training course, and put little effort into learning anything new.  You can bet that this is a waste of company time in lost productivity and the cost of the training is water down the drain.  So why are they doing it.

In my book The Training Physical I discuss “culture” and “the way it is works here” as part and parcel to a lot of what can make training unhealthy.  The culture of the company I was trying to help this week involves learning about things in mass.  I’m talking about a university, where knowledge is absorbed by the truck load whether it will be used or not.  So the culture requires more learning if someone is not performing correctly.

I did some old fashion performance consulting with my client since it was impossible to offer a training solution that fit their requirements, and I believe we have a better approach to improving performance and eliminating the previous behaviors.

Although this ended well, I must remind all my readers that I screwed up big time by not asking the “why are we are training” questions.  I should not have assumed this Human Resources Manager was doing their job correctly, and it was a great reminder to me to not let this happen again.

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