Are you just ticking a box when it comes to training?

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

After spending many years as a Training and Development professional, I still wonder why so many organisations seem to miss the mark when it comes to developing their people? Here are a few thoughts that might help if you are about to embark on building capability in your organisation and a few tips from an old dog.

Motivation is everything

Why should people engage in a training programme? I mean, what’s in it for them?

Today we have a new challenge since many of our teams are working remotely, training and learning is being conducted online which presents even more issues in how to make it effective.

Much has been written about self-directed learning, online content and how hard it is to generate impact through this medium. Yet, it still goes on. There is so much that can be done to provide a great learning experience through a mixed mode approach.

This seems to work well.

1. Ensure learners are engaged from the start of the process.

a. What do they feel they need?

b. How can we best meet the requirement?

2. Acknowledge the skills and knowledge they already have

3. Structure learning for groups of around 10 people

4. Have group sessions where learners can interact and share

5. Support learners with a mix of reading, questioning, watching and taking part in webinars and podcasts

6. Develop a mentoring mindset

7. Link learning to career progression

These steps get people engaged, ensure the content is respectful of their levels of knowledge and there is a clear ‘reason for my attention’. Motivated learners are hungry to progress.

People are about done with ‘tick the box’ training.

The last training programme I was subjected to was to meet a compliance requirement in corporate accountability. It was about as bad as it sounded!

Why so bad? Well, for starters the language and style were very American and extremely patronising. No consideration was given to the appropriateness for Asia or Australia.

Then, the context and intent beyond a “CYA” was missing too. It felt like going I was through the motions, it added nothing to my role, level of performance or my ability to perform.

I do understand that governance and compliance are key in any organisation, critical even. So why not ensure that people are engaged and learn some interesting content that provides meaningful context to shift their perception around these topics?

ROI - does anyone care?

In over 30 years I have rarely seen a quality evaluation of the business case to shifting performance. This might sound harsh, but I observe so many training investment decisions driven by informing people what to do rather than shifting a mindset. We know that it’s our perceptions that drive our actions and behaviours. Training often shy’s away from shifting perceptions as these falls into the ‘too hard’ bucket. This could be the Achilles' heel of training professionals. Poor understanding of ROI is often used as a barrier to people development rather than providing the opportunities for big wins.

I believe that unless learners have the opportunity to engage with training beyond ‘telling’ organisations may not realise the potential of learning and development investments.

Lifting the expectations for the possibility of business impact of developing people will lead to better design, better evaluation and true understanding of the ROI.

When you look for brilliance, you usually find it.


Managing Director of ACN

Check out our learning and development services here.

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