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When is training and development complete waste of time and money?

If you are responsible for learning and development in your organisation it’s important to make sure you are making an investment in this, rather than it being a cost. Training and development is not a panacea to solve every organisational issue and while people are in training, they are not doing their day job...

As a training provider ourselves, you might be wondering why we are posting this - after all it’s our profession. True - and we also want to be doing the right kind of work. We also feel it’s our responsibility to help organisations make good choices about learning and development so that whatever training and development they do is a success.

So when is training and development a complete waste of time and money?

It’s a quick fix

Quick fix options rarely lead to behavioural change. At best they generate some awareness but a one day programme on Dealing with Difficult People will not give people the skills they need to actually do this. When you expect some behavioural change from people the learning needs to be deeper and they need time to practice. Take Dealing with Difficult People as an example. They might learn what the most common strategies are for this, but they won’t learn to deal with their own fear of confrontation or be able to integrate these strategies into their own style on a one day course. If awareness is your outcome (see below) then that’s all good but too many organisations expect very complex human issues to be ‘fixed’ with a bit of training and are then disappointed with the results. If you want behavioural change don’t go a for a quick fix training solution.

See our short video on the danger of quick fix solutions.

Outcomes are unclear

When we are designing a development programme for an organisation, the first thing we do is help them to get very clear on their outcomes. Often organisations have given a lot of thought to the content they want in a training, without really being clear on what they want to see from people as a output. Consider what you would like to see in your business as a result of this training or development work: how will the culture be different? how will decisions be made? how will conflict be handled? If your provider knows this they will be able to work with you to create a solution that meets those needs, which might not be what you were originally thinking.

See our free guide to setting goals that work for help in getting clear on your training outcomes.

People don’t want to learn & develop

In order to change people need three key elements:

Awareness - of themselves and that things could be different / better.
Motivation - they need a reason to change that appeals to them.
Choices - a choice as to how to be different, so that they can find a way to integrate it into their personality.

A trainer’s or coach’s job is to provide these things for people when they are on a programme, but they need at least some awareness and motivation to come along in the first place. Sometimes when people are ‘sent’ on training without these being met first (even to a small degree), they will not change, may disrupt the group and it’s a waste of your money and their time.

You have the wrong provider for your outcome

Take time to choose providers that are specialists in your specific outcomes. This may mean working with more providers than you’d like but the more generic the training, the less impact it will generally have as even the best trainers can’t be brilliant at everything. You will probably want different providers for technical trainings, basic management skills and leadership development.

How healthy is your organisation? Take this quick assessment to find out.

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