Why Training Doesn’t Work

There are two fundamental reasons why good training may not produce solid, long-term rewards. Both of them involve our mindsets. Many of us approach a new training opportunity by either over valuing or under valuing its intended outcomes. In this post, I will address the former.

Good training can transform individuals and organizations, but many have unrealistic expectations about its efficacy. Picture frustrated managers who have so much to juggle that they’ve made few attempts to fix unhealthy dynamics that fluctuate between irritating on some days and calamity on others. When bandwidth to find a solution remains nowhere in sight, it suddenly seems like a great idea to send the team to a training in which the learning outcomes align with the pain points, like leadership training. Usually, a decision like this gets paired with some magical thinking that somehow everything will get solved in a couple of hours. A few days later, when old patterns and negative behaviors rear their ugly heads, the once golden training cure-all becomes a source of buyer’s remorse.

In order to have a realistic attitude about what effective training can accomplish, over-valuers should:

  • Do some of the work (e.g., difficult conversations) they want to accomplish before the learning event; at least acknowledge that there is an issue, or something to be fixed. If the learners feel unheard and/or over identify the issue the training will address, their emotions will cloud their ability to embrace the content and, consequently, be unavailable to learn.
  • Outline clear expectations, desired achievements and the fundamental reasons for the training. I have literally facilitated a class with new leaders who broke into tears, assuming they were present for punitive reasons and that the intention was to remediate their skills. Afterward, I found out they were deemed the highest potential of a recently promoted cohort. And nobody bothered to tell them so.
  • Explain that training outcomes will be measured, monitored and evaluated at least once a quarter. This keeps the relevance and value of the training alive for the participants, and the ROI sustained for the leaders who sent them to it.

In my next post, I will take on the skeptics who under-value training efficacy! My next Fundamentals of Supervision training session for leaders is scheduled. Regardless of experience level, anyone who manages people will benefit from this course. I look forward to seeing you there! 


John Mancuso

Authentic Communication Matters – Guest Blog



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