Do you conduct or attend training programs at work? The answer is probably yes. That’s great news, you’re in an organization that invests in its human capital.
Do you find that these training programs have no effect and change nothing? The answer is probably yes as well. Yes, you should get alarmed.
While companies spend billions of dollars annually (Borzykowski, 2017) (De Smet, et al., 2010), research shows that most of this money is wasted. A recent Harvard Business School paper calls this “The Great Training Robbery” since according to a training effectiveness meta-analysis only 10% of training programs are effective (Beer , et al., 2016).
So what causes training programs to fail so miserably so often. Based on our experience and the research, here are the 3 main reasons in the GCC.
You are “sent” to training
Unfortunately, that is still a practice in today’s organization. In the same way that it is better for our children to want to go to school then simply be sent, it’s important for employees to be engaged in the training programs they attend. These training opportunities need to align with the organization’s needs as well as their personal goals. This is not difficult. Stop assigning training like it’s another task. If you were going to hand cash bonuses to your team, wouldn’t you think about it first? Perhaps even ask the members what they would do with the money? Training is not a task, it’s an investment. Ask your members what they’re interested in and what they will do with their learning. You can easily tell if someone should attend a training, simply ask them why they want to attend.
To change alone is difficult; To change together is easier
Often in training workshops, participants will remark: “our teams should take this training” or “please can you tell our managers?”. If anything, this indicates that the participants are convinced with the principles, tools or concepts discussed but are highlighting the cultural barriers within their environment. Truly valuable changes such as changing your organization to become more customer-centric, more leadership focused, or more innovative, requires more than training a few members. In this case, training can become a source of frustration, as someone wants to change but feels helpless. So, think about training a selected few unless you have a comprehensive intervention or a knowledge transfer plan
We look at happy sheets
For a training to be effective, it’s not enough for the participants to have enjoyed it. Training feedback forms assess whether the participants found the training engaging and meaningful. They are called happy sheets for a reason: unless the trainer has really done a bad job, participants are happy to get the opportunity to be out of the office, interact with others and learn something new. That doesn’t mean that training will be implemented. Unless you have a system of tracking and follow-up, results will not be achieved. What’s worse is that by not doing any follow-up, we are strengthening the misguided belief that training stays in the classroom and doesn’t transfer to the workplace.
If you find this to reflect a truth at your organization too, you must be frustrated. As consultants in the field of L&D, we are also frustrated. Training that doesn’t produce results can be worse than not having any training programs at all. To start with, not showing a return on investment, can stop leadership from investing in more. Furthermore, when an employee attends a training, they might be held accountable for changes that they are not yet empowered to achieve. In addition, we are building a culture of training that is useless and used as a form of employee entertainment or rewards rather than what it really is: a tool for business improvement.
That’s why WIDE Impact has developed a unique approach to ensure that training is effective. It starts with assessing business problems to uncover root causes and whether training is the proper solution. From there, we design programs that suit the client’s needs and measure at different levels until we achieve the target results. Our approach renews everyone’s faith in training as a valuable investment that matters, not the greatest robbery of modern time.
If you’re interested to know more about our approach, get in touch through…
Beer , M., Finnstrom, M. & Schrader, D., 2016. The Great Training Robbery, s.l.: Harvard Business School.
Borzykowski, B., 2017. Why so many companies get training wrong. [Online]
[Accessed 20 11 2018].
De Smet, A., Mcgurk, M. & Schwar, E., 2010. Getting more from your training programs. McKinsey Quarterly October 2010, October.