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Training myths (part three)


Last week, we looked at our second myth of training, the idea that the effectiveness of training is all down to the performance of the trainer.  So myth-buster number two is: I’m good but I ain’t that good (nobody is) - training is a partnership.  It’s a partnership between the trainer and the company who wants the training done.  And you’d better believe it’s a partnership of equals - don’t think you can fob it all off on the trainer to solve your problems.  If you’re commissioning training, you have some work to do and you’d better be prepared to do it - otherwise the training isn’t going to work.

The temptation often is for clients to identify a problem and then hand it over to the trainer to solve.  Essentially, to “fix” the people on the workshop.  But a moment’s thought will make anyone realise that human beings don’t learn that way.  Training cannot be isolated events, divorced from the “real world” of the delegates’ jobs.  It makes me smile sadly when delegates talk about training and use a phrase like “it’s better than working” because it’s another symptom of this mindset.  If training is isolated from the day job it means that the delegates can safely ignore anything and everything that they’re taught or shown.

Bringing training into the day job requires time and thought and, most importantly, it requires input from the client.  Only the client, the person identifying the training need and commissioning the work to meet that need can support the trainer.  If you’re serious  about growing crops, you don’t just chuck seeds anywhere, you ensure you have the right seeds, you carefully prepare the ground beforehand and then you nurture the crops while it grows.  Training people is the same.  

In their excellent book “Training on Trial,” Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick talk about the need for clients and trainers to identify the drivers and necessities of success for a training programme.  Drivers are the processes and systems that “reinforce, monitor, encourage or reward” the delegates for applying what they have learned, while the necessities are the “items, events, conditions or communications that help to head off problems before they can reduce the impact” of the training.  Crudely put, the necessities are the things that have to be in place before the training while the drivers take over afterwards.

Training doesn’t happen in a bubble - it is (or it should be) deeply connected with the role that delegates play in their organisation.  Isolating training leads to wasting everyone’s time, money and effort.  Regardless of how good the trainer is, everything he or she says can be overridden by the culture of the organisation to which the delegate returns - those commissioning training forget that at their peril and I’ll say more about that next week.

One Response

  1. Myth #2

     Very well said. Thank you for the post. I never cease to be amazed by the number of clients who consistently abdicate all responsibility for learning & development to the training department, whether internal to the company or external consultants. I believe it is an attitude based in part on the very out-of-date view of training as knowledge transmission — you take information from a trainer, put it into a learner, and the desired improvement in performance magically occurs! 

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