No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Training myths (part two)


Last week, I introduced the first of our training myths so this week let’s introduce our first myth-buster: no one needs training.  That’s probably an unusual statement for a training provider to make, so let me explain what I mean by that.  What people need is not training but better outcomes - training is not an end in itself, it’s merely the route to get to that end.  There should be a reason for training: within a business context, the purpose of learning is not knowledge but action.  You might want more or less of something; you may want something to improve; you may want it done quicker, cheaper, at higher quality - whatever it is, there is a reason for the training.  

Now, if that’s the mindset, that’s going to drive a whole different set of behaviours.  For the person commissioning the training, it means they’re going to have to do some thinking about what they actually need; for the trainer it means they’re going to have to think about how they meet that need, rather than which box of tricks they can sell the client.  Either way, it extends the training out of the training room - which is a very significant point and leads on to myth number two: the success of any training is down to the trainer.

This is probably the most common and most pernicious myth of all. You can tell that many companies - and trainers - have this mindset because for most workshops the only evaluation that’s ever done is at Kirkpatrick Level One, otherwise known as the happy sheet that delegates at the end of the workshop.  All anyone is interested in is how the day went and whether the trainer did a good job, in the eyes of the delegates.

Now, I have nothing against being evaluated.  I believe I’m a good performer in the room and plenty of people have agreed with me.  But, as we’re all friends here, let’s be honest: the happy sheets measure the wrong things when it comes to workshop success, can easily be manipulated and are therefore pretty much worthless.  There; I said it.

What do the sheets ask?  Whether you enjoyed the day or not and whether you think that trainer did a good job.  Fundamentally, did you have a good time and did you like the trainer.  I’m not being cynical but if I give you lots of chocolate, tell you lots of jokes, give you an easy time and finish the workshop early, I’m pretty much guaranteed a good score.  Does that mean I did a good job?  Far from it and, while we’re on the subject, what does a “good job” actually mean in this context?  When do the sheets get completed?  Usually the last thing on the day - they’re often the only thing standing between the delegates and the door, so they get rushed; tick a box, circle a number and get out of there.  Write down considered and thoughtful feedback in the space provided? I don’t think so!

But the happy sheets are only one aspect of this mindset.  You can see the other aspect a few weeks or months after the workshop.  Let’s say you commissioned a time-management workshop.  It was delivered, the delegates enjoyed it, according to the happy sheets, but you can't help but notice that nothing’s really changed.  So what do you think?  The training can’t have been up to much after all, so best get another trainer in to do a proper job this time - after all, clearly whatever that last trainer did didn’t work; he probably just told jokes and fed them chocolate...

One Response

  1. Right on the nail!


    Not only is this article "spot on", there is also supporting research – from no less a company than IBM.

    Back in the 1970s, when the company was still "king of the hill", a survey designed to measure training effectiveness (inhouse) was carried out by staff at one of IBM’s largest training centres.

    Amongst the results was this nugget:

    When the effectiveness of training courses were measured 3, 6 and 9 months down the line, it was found that the best results (in terms of trainees actually being able to put their training into practice), were for people who had given the trainer (on the post-course happy sheets) an approval rating of 61-80%.  This finding was based on reports from the managers who had sent their staff for training.

    Those trainees who awarded the trainer a rating of over 80% were found, on average, to have shown a less satisfactory post-course performance than those who gave the lower rating.

    The IBM finding was thought to show – as Steve has argued – that the trainers who got the highest scores were in fact being judged on their SOCIAL SKILLS [I don’t think Hershey Bars were specifically mentioned ;¬) ]  rather than on the quality of the training in terms of ROI.

    Looking forward to reading the next article, Steve

    Andy Bradbury


No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!