During a discussion on how to improve a human being’s health, I discovered a direct link with improving the health of the training functions in our organizations. Even though I wrote The Training Physical with constant references to our human physical, I missed this insight into why our training functions become ill in the first place, and remain ill years later.
The discussion was about how if we spent more time in prevention of illness in our human bodies there would be less to treat down the road. The opinion was that we should first focus on preventing illness, and if we cannot prevent it we should find a cure for it, and as a last resort spend the time, money and resources on treatments.
Yet for most of us we focus little on prevention, and instead we wait for the illness and throw every treatment possible at it hoping to remove it. We spend so much more money trying to treat illness than we ever would have trying to just prevent it.
My “Uh-Ahh” moment came when I realized that training departments often work the same way. The ones that are in the worst shape are running around trying to fix performance problems. They train people when things go wrong, not before when it could have prevented a problem.
Management Development training is by far my best example. Companies are not preventing the numerous issues that come from managers that are unable to communicate well with staff, or problem solve, or know how to coach, motivate and create great working environments. Rather than spending time preparing managers to manage, training dollars go to fixing the problems caused by inappropriate comments, high turnover rates and lagging sales or service goals.
It may sound like I have a new drum to beat, but it is just a different version of the same song I’ve been singing. Training must be both proactive and reactive. Only the best training departments are being proactive, the rest are spending too much time and money putting out fires.