Training Didn’t Work This Time

If training is supposed to create behaviors that were not present in an employee before they were trained, what do we say when months after the training event the behaviors are still missing?

While I may get shot down for saying this, I must insist that honesty is the best option for the training function.  Sometimes training does not fix the problem and sometimes it does not work.  For those of us that live in the performance improvement world we know that training is only a fix about 50% of the time so we first need to understand its limitations.  However, when it is considered to be part of the solution process, it is vital that we design a training solution that will achieve results.

When we choose a training solution we must be willing to endorse its limitations in the performance process, but we must be responsible to make sure it will do its share.  If you are training management communication skills, and the learning process is all information and no application, we know our chances of success are limited.  When managers continue to say inappropriate things we can’t sit back and say, “well we trained them” and walk away.  We must acknowledge that our training solution did not work and we need to fix it.

In many companies there are lists of skills that we assume employees arrive with and therefore do not train.  My favorites in addition to management communication skills are customer service and sales skills.  Never are any of these learned in school and/or at home.  To assume that they learned it from a previous employer admits that you want several different versions floating around the organization.

In some retail and restaurant environments this skill building is being left to the local manager.  OMG, have you interacted with a retail store or restaurant manager lately.  It is literally hit and miss if you find one that possesses these skills.

When I evaluate a performance issue, I will always lay blame at the foot of training if it does not exist and the skills are to be learned through some osmosis process.  When training exists and yet is flawed, I go back and challenge a redesign of the learning process.  When training is correctly designed and implemented, 9 times out of 10 it is the lack of reinforcement by management that allows the behaviors to disappear.

Sometimes training does not work, and sometimes it should work and it is being derailed.  If you are leading training, it is important that you are doing your part to deliver good training.  Don’t agree to flawed training design, and take the blame when you do come up short.


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