Three Things Training Cannot Fix

With the end of 2015 quickly approaching, I am in process of assessing the year’s performance in regards to our ANNUITAS training initiatives and goals, plus looking at opportunities for 2016. I’ve had some candid conversations with my stakeholders about the efficacy of our current programs and what our most pressing training and development needs for the coming year. While in the midst of it, I started thinking about what training can realistically influence, as well as how I’ve experienced training used as a tactic for avoidance of larger and often much trickier problems in past.

shutterstock_238933294There is no doubt that training is and will continue to be an important part of both employee and organizational growth. Training will continue to evolve and organizations will make significant investments in time, technology, and development of new training programs in the future with the outcome of supporting business goals and employee growth. Let’s be clear though, while training is an excellent strategy for knowledge gaps and development, there are several things that training will not be able to do, no matter the investment behind it because these issues are systemic in an organization.

Poor Leadership / Lack of Management:
Imagine the poor folks subjected to training after training because they are seen as continually deficient for failure to meet performance goals, wherein the real issue is lack of management. No training program, no matter how good it is, can make up for continual lack of direction and feedback. This also includes inability to enforce policy and procedure. Yes, we can absolutely train on what and how to do things, but it is up to management to provide consequences for failing to do so. Training employees repeatedly on what they already know, but are refusing to do, is absolutely useless.

Insufficient Resources:
Is your company still running on Windows 98? Okay, I doubt you are and I am being dramatic here, but I am making a point. In other words, is your organization expecting world – class performance from your employees with a subpar working environment and insufficient resources and counting on training to fill that gap?  Or think about insufficient control over available resources, do you have someone with all the responsibility and little to no control over resources to get the work done? Training is not going to fix that either and failure to address these issues will contribute to employee burnout.

Bad Hiring Choices:
Training is a definitely a possibility when employees are lacking knowledge. For example, changes in technology, procedure, performance standards, as well as the creation of new roles entirely may warrant a training program to bridge the gap. These are what the Society for Human Resource Management calls “Can’t do” categories: the employee is missing skills or information necessary to do their job. The issue that training cannot fix is the “Won’t do” issues such as bad attitudes and poor cultural fit. Toxic employees cost more than a non-toxic employee and they often have a company wide effect. Again, training will not remedy a poor hiring decision.

In conclusion, attempting to use training to thwart any of these issues ends up failing and creating an overall problem towards any future training with a “training doesn’t work” mindset.

Christo Popov, CEO of FastTrack writes, “For training to have real value, your company must first have a clear strategy and execution plan in place. Your strategy should clearly articulate three to five core skills and competencies and three to five key activities that will make execution possible. Your training should then focus on these skills and competencies.” It always comes back to strategy, even in training. Taking the time to asses and strategically plan your training needs will allow you to avoid training on issues that training cannot fix.

Author: Erin Kelley @MsErinKelley Vice President, Professional Development and Training, ANNUITAS

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