View the companion video for this “Why Training Fails” article here:

Employee training is a major investment. So you want to make sure your money and staff time aren’t wasted. You want to make sure you are getting the most out of your training budget. Lets talk about why training fails and what to do about it.

Problem 1: Didn’t Determine REAL Needs

The first problem is that you may not have determined the real training needs. Is the person struggling because:

  • They lack experience?
  • They lack the capability?
  • They need more software training?
  • They need time management or other soft skills training?

If you are providing training for the wrong problem, the training is wasted.

Solution: In-Depth Needs Assessment

To find the real problems, perform an in-depth training needs assessment and identify what training is needed. If you don’t have the expertise in-house for this, consider hiring an outside firm to perform the assessment.

Problem 2: Different Readiness Levels

Not all members of your team are at the same readiness levels for training. For example Sandy and Bob both use Excel extensively every day, but Sandy is an advanced user and Bob is a beginner. Sending both on the same Excel course or having an instructor come in and teach your team wouldn’t work for the different levels. The instructor would have to “dumb down” the class for Bob and the other beginners and Sandy and other advanced users would be sitting there bored.

Solution: Train for Readiness Levels

The solution is to send Sandy on the advanced Excel course and Bob on the basics course. It is important to beware of “one size fits all” training. It is attractive because it appears to be more cost effective on the surface, but it doesn’t work well for different readiness levels.

Problem 3: Wrong Training Company

In some cases, the training company you’ve hired performs poorly or isn’t able to work with your company culture.

Solution: Test

The solution in this case is to do more testing BEFORE you buy. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Check references – ask probing questions like “What could have been done better?”
  • Test their responsiveness to questions
  • Ask for (and pay for) a sample session on one topic – get feedback from your staff on how effective the session was

Problem 4: Hearing Lecture ≠ Acquired Skills

Hearing a lecture doesn’t automatically mean you now have the skill any more than reading a book on brain surgery doesn’t automatically give you the skill to operate on your friends and family.

Solution: Opportunity to Practice Skill

Participant should come back with a list of what they have learned. An action plan should be developed jointly with their manager to ensure time is set aside for practice and continued development of the skills.

Problem 5: Can’t Apply Lessons

The lessons sounded fine while the participant was at workshop but they struggle to implement it back at the office.  This is a very common problem with training – the concepts and ideas are great, but the participant can’t implement them back in their everyday work environment. They fall back into their old habits that weren’t working.

Solution: Ongoing Help

This solution for this is for the employee to have access to ongoing help. This can be in the form of an In-house trainer or support person that can help them apply lessons or more resources from the external training company.

A good external training company can provide additional resources and help such as:

  • video training library and other materials
  • Followup sessions
  • More training sessions

Training should be a partnership between your outside trainers and in-house trainers, managers and HR people to get the maximum benefit from your training.

I hope you have enjoyed this Why Training Fails article. Please share it with others.

If you would like a quote on time management skills training, contact me.

-Garland Coulson “Captain Time”