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Graham David

15 reasons why training programmes don’t work as well as they should

This is a post which is going to do “what it says on the tin” .. .very simple … over the years whenever a client and I look at a course and its successes and improvement points, we are always trying to find where we can make some “quick fixes” for the next run of the course.

Naturally, any organisation has changing and conflicting priorities, and that sometimes reveals itself in what happens around some training plans. However, training is a big investment in both time and money, so if you want to make your training spend achieve as much as possible, these might be worth considering.

  1. The Senior Management Team or other senior people are not fully on board. The organisation is spending significant money on some training work, but any good it achieves will always be undone if Very Senior People aren’t seen to live and breathe and support the new changes.
  2. Managers of the people you are working with don’t feel consulted or they feel they need support for something linked to the training topic.
  3. Despite the hoops people jump through and the budgets applied to THIS training, everyone knows that there is an “untouchable” senior managers course which costs huge amounts of money. That feels unfair to them and impacts their support (or otherwise) for this programme.
  4. Some courses for, say, graduates are more about perception than actual deliverables, and so no one really scrutinises what happens and why.
  5. In an effort to make training funds go further, spend on all other aspects of the course are cut, so that world class speakers are delivering in woefully unsuited rooms, and delegates aren’t even provided with a cup of coffee! Whilst this may seem “picky” all of it is linked with how well delegates believe the organisation is working with a new idea, compared to just paying lip service.
  6. The key stakeholder has their fingerprints all over the work – so the training professional does what they can, but is trying to “fit in” too much of someone elses message. Look, if you hire me, you’re the boss, you’re paying for this so you can have this training any way you want .. but if I have more training skills and experience than you, perhaps you might want to use my skills and experience that you are paying for?
  7. The key stakeholder, once they have agreed what will happen,shows zero interest in the process so that mistakes creep in and the work goes “off message”. At a recent final seminar I delivered for a business following a year of development, I saw none of the key buyers, had no interest expressed from them about how well the course was running, and had to work with several delegates who didn’t even know the course was running that day.
  8. Training happens because training happens. In other words, no one has established a true need. This is more like custom and practice so it has limited value.
  9. No clear Return on Investment priorities have been established. Many people hold off from defining these, but its a reasonably simple process and will focus your training programme incredibly well.
  10. Your training team isn’t good enough. Yes I know thats a tough one, but unless you ask the question, how will you improve? Take a look at what “really good” looks like, and compare it to what your organisation is currently delivering. How does it compare?
  11. Your training providers aren’t good enough. Again, difficult to consider, especially if there has been some time and a good relationship in place, but the reality is that in some cases that relationship can overshadow clear and cogent decisions from the buyer. You need to get out and see what other providers can do and what they will charge.
  12. You weren’t clear enough about the specific outcomes you want from the delegates by attending the course. Why were they on the course and what changes did you / their managers / they want from spending time on this session?
  13. You didn’t do enough AFTER the course to track changes and development. Change itself can be very easy, but it can require constant reinforcement. If you send people on a course about being better leaders, but ask nothing from them in the days and weeks after the course to show what changes have been made, its likely that NO changes will be made.
  14. Training is perceived as a punishment by people in your organisation “If you keep turning up late I’m going to put you on a Time Management course”. This is the approach those Speed Awareness courses take (you can have 3 points OR you can go on a course). This is often linked to what SMT or managers think about your work (see various points above!)
  15. You need a better communication programme with your organisation telling them what is available and how they access it. This is time consuming work to do properly, but by making it easier for delegates and potential attendees to talk to you, it will be easier to deliver what they want and need.

That’s the list I have identified over the last twenty years. Im curious what is missing, what you agree with, disagree with or indeed any other questions, comments or observations you may have.