Is training a ‘good thing’?
Let me start by stating that I am a huge advocate of education. Training is one the final focus areas for risk mitigation however I’d like to say that the mindless pursuit of training for its own sake should be avoided at all costs. Even as a mitigation strategy, training can actually introduce a number of risks to the organisation if it is not done with careful consideration. This article will discuss some of these risks.
1. Training should be effective
The metrics for training should never be cost-based. Training should be measured solely on its effectiveness. The training that is chosen should meet the reasons it was commissioned – to increase knowledge, skill or to create behavioural change. ‘Cheap’ training is the most expensive training we can buy. Even if the training is well-conceived and well delivered, it can be rendered ineffective by other organisational factors outside the control of the trainer.
2. Over-training should be avoided
Like anything, training can actually lead to fatigue. People might be keen to start a training programme, but there needs to be time for the training that is done to ‘bed in’ and be operationalised or it will not be seen as valuable. This can lead to a lack of commitment for future training programmes.
Some people nominate themselves for every single course under the sun, regardless of whether these courses actually have anything to do with their current role or responsibilities. I recall seeing this in a few places I worked. This might have more to do with the time that these people are away from their workplace on courses, meaning that the organisation does not even benefit from the previous training if they are always absent! Further, the sheer amount of courses done sometimes meant that when some of it was called upon, the person had forgotten what they were taught because they never used it and internalised their learning.
3. Training should be relevant
One major complaint of training is that it does not reflect the reality of the delegates (in their opinion) and the challenges of their roles. Those commissioning training should ensure that they attend a session before sending others on it and ensure that the expectations following the session are communicated clearly to those who will be participating. If they cannot see the relevance, they won’t remember a thing about what is being taught.
4. Organisational Failure to Provide Opportunity
Some people who are committed to their own development can rapidly become over-qualified for their roles and if there is insufficient opportunity in the organisation, this can lead to a loss of the very talent that was being developed.
5. Training events should form a part of a wider strategy
This is key. Where there is no strategy for developing the team or its individual members, training is certain to be less than effective. Departments should have a top level strategy for development, filtering down to personal development plans created in conjunction with the team themselves. This should sit alongside the succession plan for the department.
6. The culture doesn’t support education
Where is the point in sending team members on courses to learn how to do things ‘properly’ only for them to return to the workplace and be ignored? This is typical where there are ‘old school’ employees at management level who don’t train, never trained and want to carry on doing things in their own way, irrespective of advances in the workplace, changes in legislation or differing client expectations. Staff members can quickly become disillusioned with both their training and their employer in these situations, and this can lead to conflict.
Leaders in the business should attend any training courses that their delegates are on (where possible). If managers do not know what their staff are being taught, how will they then know whether mistakes are being made? Not only does this provide the manager with the ability to accurately monitor performance, it provides a strong cultural boost to the team.
Training can only ever be as effective as the organisational culture that commissions it. For advice on how to build a robust culture that benefits from training, get in touch using the contact us page.
By Richard Diston MSc MSyI