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Why Training Fails: 11 Truth That Most Good Leaders Don’t Even Know

I’ve been involved in training, speaking, and consulting for 28 years–and the issues have been the same since I started. The shocking truth is that a ton of money gets spent–but it’s all wasted because of the unintentional barriers organizations have in place around training.

Hopefully, you can learn from my experiences. Here are the 11 main reasons why training fails:

1. No one tells trainees why they’re training.

When I am facilitating a training program and I ask people why they are there, the number one answer by far is “because my manager told me to be in the training”. In the majority of the cases they are not told why.

Solution: Mangers should tell people the reason why they are in the training.

2. Training is as boring as watching paint dry.

In today’s world of instant entertainment, if people aren’t entertained, they check out quickly. People tell me all the time that most training programs are very boring.

Solution: Train internal people how to facilitate great training or hire an outside expert.

3. Training is a legal requirement or policy driven.

Many organizations have certain training programs that are required, like safety training and sexual harassment avoidance. Because they are mandatory people feel like they are being punished and resent being there.

Solution: Each manger should explain to their team how the training will help them and the company. If people understand why they are much more likely to go along with it.

4. Not enough time gets allotted for training.

When I am talking to a client about training and they ask me how long a program is and I say a full day, they want me to do it in a half day. If I say half day they want me to do it in two hours. There are no effective shortcuts to effective training.

Solution: Budget the time as an investment to help people learn.

5. There’s no actual training taken place.

I am simply amazed that there are so many organizations that don’t train people at all. They use the world famous “just follow Fred around for a week” and rely on other people to show people the ropes.

Solution: Every new employee should have an initial training program for orientation.

6. Using a subject matter expert for the training.

Just because someone is an expert doesn’t mean they can teach their expertise to others.

Solution: Be careful who you select for training. They need to be an expert in their field–and an expert at training.

7. Thinking that education is training.

Education is learning about something. Training is learning how to do it. I can learn all about feeding lions at the zoo, but if I’m going to do it, I need to be trained how to do it or face dire consequences.

Solution: Make sure the outcome of training is that people can do what they need to do.

8. Restricting training to a classroom.

There are many different ways to train someone, and it doesn’t have to be a classroom. We can mentor, coach, have on the job training, we can rotate job assignments to cross train, or someone can study a “how to” guide.

Solution: Find other creative ways to train people.

9. Using training that’s too goofy.

I’ve seen some activities in training that, to me, belonged in a kindergarten class. When training exercises are too juvenile, people will stop learning.

Solution: Know your team and don’t have exercises that are too childish.

10. Failing to follow up post-training.

Many people attend training and then they are done. Their manager doesn’t meet with them to see how the training went and discuss what they learned. The retention or information goes way down when they only talk about something once.

Solution: Every manager should talk with their direct reports within two weeks of the training to discuss what they learned and develop an action plan.

11.Thinking that training is an event.

Many people think of training as an event. The reality is great training should be a process with many elements involved. This helps organizations implement changes as a result of the training.

Solution: Have better training plans and determine how they all relate together.

Thinking about all of these elements and how they fit together will make sure that you don’t waste your training dollars.

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