Do You Train Consequences?

untitled10In the training world we spend countless hours designing and delivering training solutions that build competencies in order to achieve levels of results. If we want managers to communicate better we train the necessary skills that enable managers to converse with people so the message is delivered, and is respectful of others.

Yet any learning development professional that has been in the game for a while will admit, selling a training initiative is never a slam dunk. You may have the perfectly designed solution that will pop out the right results and it still falls on deaf ears when getting an agreement to go forward. This is why many of us have learned that the consequences of NOT training should always be part of the communication.



“What happens if we train our employees and then they leave?”


“What happens if we don’t train our employees and they stay?”


I am sure some trainer came up with this quote as a way to make a point, as I really doubt there is a single CEO or CFO that has ever had this conversation. It does however remind us that not training skills that produce company expectations will produce consequences.

For decades now most of today’s managers have gone without what I call basic communication skills. Very few managers take the time to evaluate the consequences of the words they choose to speak or write and how they will be taken. In a single email, you can instantly kill a good relationship with a fellow employee or staff member that cannot be repaired. Because you spoke unprofessionally, or accused wrongfully, irreparable damage can be afflicted on a fellow human being just because you decided to be a pompous ass at that moment.

I used to train a management development program that began every skill development showing a video demonstration for the wrong way to communicate that topic. I spent more time debriefing the consequences of “the wrong way” to drill in the impact than I did debriefing why the preferred way was better. I found that people understood the right way once they understood why the wrong way didn’t work.

I carried out this process when I managed large groups of people. When I observed inappropriate behavior, or within a string of email noticed a bad choice of words or impression conveyed to another employee, I called out not only what I observed, but the potential consequences of their actions. My staff could expect me to get involved if I saw mistreatment.

At the same time my managers knew I would not accept their bad day being redirected to me. I let them know the consequences of their actions. I’ll never forget one manager who felt it appropriate to misinterpret an email I sent her asking for help with a member of her team that was not doing their job, thus having an impact on me doing my job. She lit me up like a candle in an email, taking “offense” at my choice of words.

Up to this point we had a solid relationship, so I responded that she had interpreted my request for help incorrectly, and that I had not done what she was accusing me of doing. Her reply consisted of a change of tone, immediate help, but absent an apology! No way was she ever going to admit fault and I better get used to it. Two months later I resigned and told her why I was leaving. The consequence of her lack of communication skills was made evident in losing a good employee and keeping a bad one. I’ll never forget the look on her face.  (It still wasn’t her fault)

Bottom line, train the skills to enable the behaviors you seek and need. Yet hold managers accountable, even if they are sitting in the C Suite.

Opening a Pointless Training Department


Everyone was so excited 3 months ago when the announcement was made by senior management that they were going to open a training department. The company has been growing and it will continue to grow and the decision was made that training should be a focus going forward.

So what has happened in the past 3 months?

  • Maybe they hired someone that was a facilitator (trainer) and made them a manager.
  • Maybe they have posted a job and are looking for a training manager
  • Maybe they are knee deep in strategizing the purpose and goals of the training function before the seek to find a manager
  • Maybe they delegated this to an overtasked manager or HR person, neither of which knows much about the learning function, and there it sits.

Sadly, only one of these options would be a good use of the past 90 days, that being setting strategy and goals. Yet for a majority of companies that come up with the realization they need a training function, one of the other options is probably where this project is sitting.


In my first book, The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat and Cure your Training Department, I go into some detail on how to fix a poorly run training function. Yet for readers without a training function, it is also a clear roadmap as to how to setup a function that will return on investment.

I stress that the company should have in writing a clear sense of purpose for training. Why do you want it? What is the purpose? What are the goals in 6 months and the first year? Knowing the answers prepare you to interview people that can make it happen. Maybe a current trainer could be hired to manage the function, but if they can’t tell you how they will address these goals or push back on incorrect perceptions then they are not ready.


In my second book, Pointless Training: The Consequences of Inadequate Training Strategies, I begin by saying that no company sets out to create Pointless Training programs or a Pointless Training Department, ON PURPOSE. Yet it happens all the time because the wrong strategies are implemented.

If you have delegated the implantation of a new training department to the wrong person, they will hire the wrong people to manage it. Often it is assumed that the HR function should be able to house a training department, sadly many HR Managers never studied Adult Learning Principles and are clueless to the components of a functional training department.


So what do you do if you have been the lucky one assigned the roll out of a new training department? Simply, get help from someone who has done it before successfully. Consultants can be your best resource, and you pay only for the work you contract.

  • Maybe you need help setting strategy and the consultant facilitates those conversations.
  • Maybe you need help designing a first year training plan and goals.
  • Maybe you need help interviewing finalists that say they can implement your plans, and you need someone to see through the jargon into whether a skill set exists.


So if a year from now you would like the employees of your organization to be cheering their new training department versus saying that our training is pointless, build it correctly in the first place. It is so much easier than to fix it later.