Leadership insight; Why training fails to meet its long-term objectives

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What long-term objectives should we be looking for training to meet? Surely the key outcome should be a change in behaviour leading to increased effectiveness by a team member in their role, and if handled correctly, increased ongoing discretionary effort from that team member.

The problem is – training won’t produce these results unless it has three key ingredients:

1. Trainee input

2. Manager input

3. A training program that is designed to meet both the trainee’s and the organization’s needs

Take the following scenario, which is very common in many organizations:

A manager has decided for a variety of reasons that one of their team members has issues managing their time, so they approach L&D/HR and request that time management training be organized for this team member. The manager has raised the issue with their team member who replied: "I just can’t get everything done because the role requires the work of two people" or "I can’t concentrate properly in this open office" and so the manager has concluded that the problem is due to a lack of time management skills. The team member, however, doesn’t see it this way. As a result, the team member will attend training, but only because they have been told they must, and consequently they may not be open to many of the ideas presented in the training.

1. Trainee Input

Adults do not respond to training that is imposed on them. Firstly, they need to be able to identify that there is a need for them to learn something. An open discussion needs to take place where all possible causes for the issues are examined. Then, if it is agreed that training is the answer, training should take place. The trainee should be attending training willingly and see it as an opportunity to develop skills that will not only improve their performance in their current role, but will also assist them in their future career aspirations.

2. Manager Input

It is well documented that training will not be implemented unless managers are involved throughout the process. In the scenario above, once the team member has completed the training, the manager should ask what key things were learnt and will be utilised in their role. In other words, the manager needs to hold the team member accountable for implementing their learning. The manager also needs to take on a coaching role and assist their team member to use these newly acquired skills and techniques in their role ongoing. If this doesn’t happen, the team member will return from their training excited and motivated but will all too soon fall back into their old habits.

3. The training program needs to meet both the trainee's and the organization's needs

Every organization is unique and has its own strategies, processes, procedures and documentation. In addition, when a trainee attends a training course, they should be able to pick up the WIIFM. Sometimes a generic training course will fit the bill but more often than not, the course content needs to be tailored to suit the trainee’s learning style and training needs, as well as the needs of the organization.

So what are the ramifications for L&D and HR?

Whereever possible, be the conduit to the solution, not the solution itself. If you identify that training is required, find out if the proposed trainee has had any input and if the manager is prepared to provide the ongoing support required. That way, the training will be relevant and tailored. If accredited training is what is required, set up a partnership arrangement with an RTO, so your internal trainers can deliver training that meets both the trainee’s and the organization’s needs. If this isn’t possible, ensure that the external training is able to be tailored to your organization – not just one size fits all.


About the author:

Leonie Curtis-Kempnich Director Training and Course Development, Leadership Success (02) 80690370 lstraining.com.au


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