Is training really the answer?

It’s a bit sad that I found myself nodding in agreement as I read a short article by workplace culture expert Steve Simpson titled Why Training Doesn’t Work.

At Terrific Trading, we are regularly approached about training for workplace teams in customer service, selling skills or dealing with difficult customers. When we ask about the reasons for the request it is not unusual to discover that there is an issue with one employee and the manager doesn't have the skills or confidence to performance manage this. When this happens training is not the answer and we are quick to alert potential clients to this.

Even if training is at least part of the answer, management clarity of purpose and commitment is required prior to the training. By this I mean managers considering training for their team need to be clear about their answers to the following questions:

  1. What do you hope to achieve as a result of the training?
  2. What support will you be providing after the training to make this happen?
  3. What makes you think the training will work?
  4. If the training does achieve what you expect, how will you maintain the momentum?

The lessons from this are:

  1. Don’t undertake training unless you have thought through how you will reinforce the key behaviours and messages.
  2. Ensure you set the scene for the training and create an infrastructure for its success.

To achieve the second point, firstly have a discussion with the participants – whether they have requested the training or you have identified the training as a need. This discussion will cover what the training involves, how they and the organisation will benefit from the training and any impediments to applying the lessons learned on their return to work.

Secondly, have a focussed discussion within two or three days of them undertaking the training to discuss what came out of it, how this can be applied and how to share ‘the learnings’ with colleagues who didn’t attend.

Too often managers aren't aware of, and don't see the importance of finding out what the training involves. And are 'too busy' fighting fires or attending meetings to invest a little time with the 'trainees' prior to and after their training to discuss outcomes and application.

As with anything in your business, to be successful, training requires management commitment, not lip service.

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email