Crystal Spraggins, SPHR
Why oh why does training have such a bad reputation?
It’s true that some trainers aren’t very good, and it’s also true that leadership has been known to drag everyone to “respect in the workplace” training when even a blind man could see that only Benny in Sales really needed the lessons, and yes, it could be argued that training takes people away from their “real” jobs and all the work waiting to get done.
At its core, “training” is merely “learning,” and who the heck doesn’t need some learning? Answer—no one. We all do.
So again, why do so many perceive training as a waste of time?
Here are some good reasons why.
The training covers things people already know
It’s not necessary to teach people things they’ve already learned. Before arranging a training session, be sure and do a needs assessment so that you can be assured that most of the people in the room will be learning something new.
The training isn’t relevant to the job
It’s also unnecessary to teach people skills that bear no relevance to their jobs. Instead of being engaged, the learners will spend most of the session wondering “Why am I here again?”
The training won’t be reinforced once the employee returns to the job
When employees don’t practice what they’ve learned, the lessons won’t stick. So, make sure that your learners will have plenty of opportunity to apply what they’ll be learning and that someone (preferably the employee’s manager) is prepared to be accountable in that regard.
The training was poorly delivered
As mentioned earlier, not all trainers are created equal. Before you engage someone to teach your staff, be sure the individual is both a content expert and a good speaker.
The training was doled out as “punishment”
Training/learning should be about personal and professional growth, not punishment for bad behavior. And training directed at an entire group (like all the managers, as in the example above), when only one or two need it is never a good idea.
The training won’t be supported by your company culture
Soft skills training, in particular, really IS a complete waste of time in an organization whose culture won’t support it. Training on topics such as respect, civility, communication, conflict resolution, and so on will have little to no impact where it’s needed most if the company culture encourages and then rewards aggressive behavior. That’s a simple fact.
The training isn’t valued by leadership
Maybe the corporate attorneys have recommended the training, or it’s being offered to satisfy government funders, or leadership deems it kind of good to do but doesn’t really see the value (and therefore doesn’t attend themselves). Whatever the reason, if that’s the case, employees will pick up on leadership ambivalence and won’t put a lot of stock (or energy) in the training either.
Training is good.
Let me say that again. Training is good. And continuous learning is essential for any organization that wants to thrive.
But like any company initiative, training must be approached strategically or it’ll fail and yes, end up being a big old waste of time.
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