Why is Good Training Such a Lousy Investment? Part 1

Do you provide training? How valuable is the training you attend either for professional or personal development? These seem like simple questions requiring simple “yes or no” answers, but often they are not.

We have found that most training leads to very little, if any change: in human performance, satisfaction, or business results. Training often makes us feel good and sometimes leaves us believing that “things are going to be different from now on”, as one of my clients puts it. We have great expectations from training, yet little changes. Seldom after training do we really do anything new, at least for very long. Old habits win out, usually within hours or days of training.

I have asked hundreds of people, “What happens within the first 1-14 days after a seminar, workshop or conference?” and the answer is nearly unanimous: there is an initial intention to do something new, but the handouts soon get “round-filed”, life gets in the way and nothing really changes at all.

Training is about learning new knowledge and skills. We find that most people have the basic knowledge and skills they need to be successful. So what is missing? What do people really need? What do they really want?

We have asked many people about their experience with training, and we’ve learned six key things that should be shaping the future of personal and professional development.

  1. The average learner rates training based on the entertainment value and ideas discovered during training rather than the lasting effect on performance that occurs by applying those ideas.
  2. The average training participant has very low expectations from training expressed by the common phrase, “If I can take away just one idea from training it will be worth it.”
  3. Most learners admit they forget what they learned through traditional training within 24-48 hours of the training event. Moreover, they typically “throw away” training notes within a couple of weeks.
  4. Most learners recognize the training ideas and skills that make a difference in their work or daily lives are due to repeated application of those ideas and skills following the training. Yet few trainers provide a proven method to help learners build repetition and application into their daily schedules following training. Few employers provide any ongoing support or expectations that ensure transfer of learning from the workshop to the work floor.
  5. Few learners, fewer trainers and even fewer training decision-makers seem to know how to really “make training stick”.
  6. On average, ideas or new “skills” from training are seldom applied on the job.

We find people gain little from most training because knowledge and skills – the basic products of training – aren’t what they really want or need most. New ideas and skills will not make much difference unless accompanied by new attitudes and habits that will allow them to get more from the knowledge and skills they already have. 

 Knowledge and skills provide only part of the solution for getting to the other side of the challenges you face, or from getting to where you want to be from where you stand now.

These findings have shaped our developmental processes, which are unlike anything most people have experienced before. Human development processes should lead to:

  1. Change in human performance, life/job satisfaction, or business results.
  2. Repeated exposure to information and ongoing practice.
  3. Discovery and impact within the confines of the training event coupled with spaced repetition of concepts and skills outside of the training event, including practice in the intended context of application.
  4. Supporting opportunities, tools and discipline for learners to retain and apply the product of training and development.
  5. A means to internalize training concepts, directly connecting them to the personal motivations of participants.
  6. Direct ties to trainee and company goals before, during and after training.

So do we at PDN provide training? I’ll cover this tomorrow with Why is Good Training Such a Lousy Investment? Part 2

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About pdncoach

A Go-Giver business coach working with leaders whose success depends on the performance and productivity of others. I coach individual leaders and their teams... in small to mid-size businesses, ministries and non-profits... to accelerate their results and achieve dreams by getting past the difficult, strategic challenges of their current realities.
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