Is Training Ever Too Late to Work?


As an advocate of training and learning for every employee so that they are equipped to perform their jobs well, I am often confronted with the need to train people at the very last-minute.  While it is true that adults learn best when they see an urgent need and an immediate application of learned skills, is training ever too late to work?

A lot of training happens after the fact, when we tried to let things happen without training.  My favorite is skipping management development and assuming  these skills are somehow inherent in everybody once they get a manager title.  Then the human resource issues start to pop up and once a full field of challenges emerge, some bright bulb decides to train managers.  Is that too late?

It is for past issues.  The problems occurred, and the fallout is already in process.  But is it too late to prevent more issues, not if you implement training well.  But who among us can say that it is a good policy to wait until everything hits the fan before we train certain skills?  Obviously a lot of people do since emergency training is quite popular in America.  We train sales skills after sales results are below expectations.  We train customer service when the complaints are rising.  We train compliance when we find ourselves breaking the law.  We wait all the time to train!

This waiting until problems have come upon us is what causes distress, and it often costs more money because of the rapid pace that needs to happen to get training implemented.  Proactive skill building, which means training management development before one becomes a manager is easier on the learner and can be implemented over time.

Results of Last Minute Training

Since I am in the proactive camp for training, I often look for companies that are launching a new product, or have announced a pending merger as examples of companies that have an audience of learners needing skills.  I will contact management and encourage a proactive approach to employee development.

I work a lot with banking, and bank mergers have been going on since the dawn of time, continue today and will continue for years to come.  One bank is buying another bank, and the buying bank wants their new employees to do things their way starting on a specific date.  For those of you that write out goals, I just identified a goal and completion date.  We know what we want to happen and by what date.

I’ve learned that a merger is successful for employees and customers when training is ready for the merger.  This mean that they already have programs in place before a merger is announced and that they have training leadership that then knows how to develop the new employees so that they are ready on day one.  Because each day passed the go live date with untrained employees puts customer retention at risk.  Yet many banks with less than 90-days to go before day one have not even developed a learning plan for new employees, not to mention have programs developed, training in progress so learning is in place before day one.

Last minute training involves slapped together programs, untested methods, costly development because you often have to hire a cadre of contractors to pull off the development in time, and then you short change the actual learning process.  The results ensure a poor customer transition process and many unhappy customers that can easily walk.

While there are some industries that really have no competition so customers have little choice but to stay after a merger, banking has a ton of options for customers.  Retention is the name of the game.  You want to retain employees and customers, and last-minute training is sending the signal that you could care less about either the employee or the customer and how this merger will impact them.

Good training can prevent problems, or halt issues and prevent new ones from happening.  But late training is never a good option to take, Ever!

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