Most articles like to paint a pretty picture about the state of training development in Corporate America. And for those companies that are doing right by their employees with a solid learning function these articles endorse their hard work and efforts. I, however, created The Training Physical and wrote a book to identify those companies that are living behind a façade. Their internal training functions do little more than appear to be doing their job and land up deceiving management that they are providing a service to employees.
When a training function is being led by someone who doesn’t have the necessary competencies, they do the best they can and build what appears to be a real training department. In other words, in place of a learning environment, they create a façade to hide what is really going on.
When a Corporate Training Manager is hired directly from the ranks of a training facilitator, with no instructional design experience, management experience, strategic experience or organizational development background, we are setting this person up to fail. Sure this person wants the promotion, and they gladly accept the job, but most will not succeed in doing a great job in the end.
It doesn’t help when senior management fails to understand the purpose of training, and therefore holds the training function accountable. It doesn’t help when management one step above the training function is into fiefdom building and counts the number of people going through training, not what is being learned.
I recently reviewed four course descriptions of workshops with the very common “at the end of this workshop participants will be able to do” line followed by what should be learning objectives. Oddly, each course had six learning objectives stated, but only 2 of the 6 on all fours workshops were actually learning objectives! The other sentences where fluff or restated the same thing. On top of this, the workshops did not account for the audience and spent 90% of the day training skills that were already in place.
In this past example, time and money was wasted in creating training materials that are simple a façade of a real learning event. Management is so happy with their four new courses, and yet very little will come out of the learning events. Oh, a couple hundred people will spend a day or two out of the office, getting paid to be a participant, but very little skill building will occur.
When I evaluate a training function (The Training Physical ), it is usually because management has gone years with a poorly run training department, and they are just not sure why. Nearly all the time it is a lack of competency by the training team that is the cause. However, why did it go this long before the problem was uncovered? Because the façade was acceptable. Because management didn’t take the time to learn what training should be like and although they audit every other function annually, they never thought to evaluate the soundness of the training department.
Are you certain your training function is doing right by your company? Are they returning on the investment, or just building a beautiful façade for you to look at?