Pointless Training

Have you ever walked out of a training workshop, a webinar or even after completing an eLearning course and said to yourself, that was a waste of time or pointless? All too often employees are being forced to participate in training that not only do they feel is pointless, but it really was unnecessary for them to attend.  Maybe they already had the skills.  Maybe it lacked what they really needed to know.  Maybe they just didn’t see the purpose.  For whatever reason, the time and expense it took to develop and attend this event was pointless to them and probably pointless period.

All company executives, not just the Human Resources Director and the Training Director, should be asking these questions.  Is your training a series of pointless events?  What do employees say about your training efforts?  Do they long for more information, different skills or a more engaging environment for learning?

While we never set out to develop pointless training solutions, pointless workshops or an entire pointless training department, it sadly happens way too often.  And each time it does happen, it makes a turnaround that much harder to implement.

I’m writing a book that discusses the big skill areas that most companies should be developing in their employees and how to make a purposeful impact and avoid pointless processes.  You no doubt will recognize times you have experienced or implemented pointless training yourself.  But while recognizing pointless training is step one, the real learning comes from understanding what you can do differently going forward.

In my first book, The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat and Cure Your Training Department, I explored what it takes to have and maintain a healthy training function.  In this book I continue my training philosophy using similar medical analogies to draw the reader into a quick understanding of how to engage learning and where employees are applauding the training function, learning applicable skills and increasing the effectiveness of the company.  Like a bandage on a cut, it has its purpose when used appropriately.  But when the cut needs stitches, it is pointless to use a bandage.

Is Your Training Function Preventing Your Success?

285671_D1L1_01For one local company, the sad reality is that their training function is not supporting the goals of the company, but are so dysfunctional that they are preventing organizational successes on a daily basis.  Their training manager is so incompetent that everything he builds breaks.

Why have I decided to take such a tough stance today?  Why not soft pedal around the issue of incompetence and frame it as something that the company can life with?  If you had an operable cancerous tumor, would you want your doctor to frame the news as something you can live with, or something he can remove?

Now while every company that has a weak training function needs to be evaluated individually, I would suggest that when things get as bad as they are for this particular company that chances are the challenges are similar.  So what I want to do is lay out the issues this company has, and ask you to evaluate whether your company is similarly challenged.

First off the training manager lacks the skills to lead a training function.  He has a background as a facilitator and a self-taught instructional designer.  Competencies to lead training can be taught and they can be learned, but we all know that this requires the learner to be open to needing development.  This training manager is under the impression that they have already reached the gold ring, and nothing else is needed.  Getting a title doesn’t make the competencies appear!

I once had a training manager that saw the training role as similar to acting.  That actors and actresses never see themselves as completed.  They are always striving to be more than they are today and stretch continually.  Training personnel need to see their careers the same, or they need to get out of the business.

The second challenge that this company has is on the leadership end.  The CEO, HR and the senior line managers are unaware of what training should be doing.  So when training does anything they assume it is doing its job.  Since they fail to understand whether training is performing well, they also miss the events that are actually derailing their own business objectives.  Unprepared employees cannot deliver on business expectations.  Poorly trained employees are unprepared.

In 90% of the cases that I diagnose, training can be cured.  In this case I would regretfully have to recommend radical surgery to remove the training manager and replace him with a competent employee.  Otherwise the patient, the company, will not last much longer.  It is also important to begin educating senior management in the purpose of training and to set better expectations.

If you are interested in learning the condition of your training function, and whether they are helping or hurting your business, contact me at Jim@JKHopkinsconsulting.com or read a copy of The Training Physical and evaluate yourself.