Many employees and HR representatives are skeptical when it comes to company trainings. They like to claim that trainings, such as for the purposes of enhancing leadership and teambuilding skills, are costly and mostly ineffective. Unfortunately, these critics have a point. Most trainings do fail and there is a number of reasons why this is so. Let’s have a look.
1. Trainings ignore reality of employees
A frequent approach to training is to ignore reality: many employees do not want to be leaders or great team builders. They want to do as little as possible while getting paid as much as possible. This does not mean that employees are bad people, they are just normal people. Everyone wants to do as little as possible with as much as possible in return. It’s human nature. So how do you deal with this lack of motivation then? By making the participants of trainings realize the benefits for themselves, not just for the company. Appeal to their self-interest by showing them how they can increase their efficiency (do less with more effect) by allowing themselves to be up-skilled. Of course, the trainer needs to be highly qualified to be able to do so.
2. Trainings deal with fuzzy concepts
Many trainers employ concepts that are not well defined, e.g. leadership should be “inspiring”, “visionary” and “by example”. But what do these things actually mean? Sometimes the trainer himself does not know and that’s why such fuzzy concepts are employed. Particularly, trainers with little experience as practitioners in companies run the risk of lacking clarity of thought. The solution is to make these concepts clear by giving concrete examples related to the employees’ work. Very often this can be done by the participants of the trainings themselves but it should be facilitated by the trainer through interactive discussions and the trainer’s own examples.
3. Companies are not clear on the objective
Not always the problem of little effectiveness of trainings lies with the trainer. Sometimes the companies who hire the trainer are also to be blamed. How can the trainer craft an effective program if the company is not clear on what they want to achieve with the training? Is the purpose finding out a problem, raising awareness of an issue or changing actual behavior? This needs to be clear at the outset, otherwise the effectiveness of a training will suffer. Naturally, it is the responsibility of the service provider to point this out to his customer and thus the responsibility of the trainer. The latter should also be honest about his own capabilities and turn down demands that he feels unable to satisfy.
4. No follow up
Depending on the objective of the training, follow up activities are more or less important. If, for example, the objective is behavioral change of employees, follow up sessions with the trainer after a period of time are essential. From my experience, most if not all trainings require some kind of follow up activity. As the most effective method is learning by doing, training participants should implement lessons learned during the training on the job for a period of say 2-3 months and then discuss the results with the trainer. The effectiveness of any program is significantly higher if follow-up sessions take place.
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