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Training myths (Part one)


I sometimes wonder why people read this blog.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m very flattered that people do and I hope they find it of some use but there are, as you might have noticed, very few comments ever posted so I’m not exactly clear on what people get from it, so I have to guess at their motives.  If you’re reading this blog I think it’s likely that you have at least some interest in the subject of development.  Perhaps you’re interested in your own development or perhaps you’re responsible for the development of others.  Whichever it may be, over the next few weeks I want to think about the idea of work-place training and development and to expose a few of the myths that have grown up around it – myths that are harming the ability of trainers to get their work done and that are resulting in businesses commissioning training that doesn’t work and which just wastes their money.

The first myth is a common one amongst businesses and that is that training is an end in and of itself.  We know from previous articles that the way we see the world, drives what we do which, in turn, determines the results that we get, so let’s think about that mindset for a moment or two.  If you have the mindset that training is an end in itself, what are you likely to do – how are you likely to behave?  Well, for both trainers and those commissioning the training, you’re likely to believe that your job ends much sooner than it actually does.  If you’re the commissioner of the training, you’ll think your job is done when you’ve signed up the trainer and told him or her what you want them to do.  If you’re the trainer it means you’ll think your job is done when the last delegate leaves the room.

This is often how businesses and trainers work.  I had an experience recently where I tried to question a company about the training they wanted.  I was trying to understand why they felt they wanted the training, so that I could directly address the needs they had.  Perhaps it was my fault but it did not go well.  They had already decided which workshop they wanted and the conversation effectively ended with them asking whether I wanted their money or not.  To be frank with you, I didn’t; clients like that are very often difficult to deal with and this sort of thinking inevitably ends with the trainer being blamed when the training is unsuccessful.  I try, whenever I can, to avoid that kind of situation but times are hard so I smiled and took the job.  That was wrong of me but needs must when the devil drives, as Shakespeare put it.  However, that kind of behaviour reinforces the myth that training is an end in itself.

Next week, we’ll take a look at our first myth-buster and the second myth of training.  In the meantime, if you have any comments, please do let me know.

3 Responses

  1. I agree

    We’re almost always expected to compromise to save time – when actually all we end up doing is compromising on the long term impact of the sessions. This year I’m pleased to say that the organisation I work for are making a serious commitment to ‘Evaluation’ (including control groups etc) which should mean that we can prove the impact of compromise.

  2. Training Myth 1

    I agree we need to look beyond the training course and focus on the actual learning and impact back in the workplace. As you say, a major challenge is always budgets – both for the organisation and the trainer!

    An additional barrier is time – often training is procured just when it’s needed (and sometimes after it’s needed!), and/or as part of an organisation-wide training programme, the design of which hasn’t included the training provider. This doesn’t give enough opportunity to explore in depth, with the trainer, the organisation’s needs, people, culture, etc., or to build the relationship between the organisation and the trainer.

    What has worked for me is building my relationship with the client outside of the "buying cycle", where we can discuss  how training can be more impactful and really meet their needs over time – without them feeling I’m just trying to sell them more training! This gives us time to share and develop ideas, for me to get a more in-depth view of what’s going on in their organisation and their personal aspirations, for them to fully understand what I can add – and most importantly builds trust that I’m interested in them and their organisation. Then, when they come to their next procurement process they are in a better position to employ me (and/or other providers) in a way that will give them the right outcomes.

  3. Training myths

     I think your post is very thoughtful and very honest. I have found in my time that many clients expect us to be clairvoyants and read their minds when designing and delivering Training.

    I think the difficulty is that we, as a profession do not defend our expertise or create a bsuiness case for how the training could really help the orgaisation.

    If they were buying a new piece of machinery they would have SMEs from finance, IT and maybe the end users. We as L&Ds must begin to change the conversation. 


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