I have found that most companies expect training to provide a “quick fix” and they utilize the training as an event to “kick-off” a change initiative. This type of thinking will certainly lead to failure if the desired long term effect is a change in behavior or culture. It takes much more than training but when used properly, training can be the most positive factor in the achievement of the initiative.
I have spent the last ten years in the business of training and I find that it is as difficult as ever to get anyone to view training as a process as opposed to an event. The reason we don’t usually see training as part of the process is that we have no strategy or plan to implement the change over time. We expect our trainers to sprinkle “fairy dust” over the participants and almost immediately, their company’s productivity and performance will elevate beyond possibilities.
I have only found a few companies where the leadership had a good understanding and visualization of the outcome resulting from the training. They know “what matters most!” but they aren’t willing to focus on a plan of action and implementation process to achieve the desired outcome. Most companies just ask, “What do you have for team building, conflict resolution, harassment, or what do you have to improve communication? We want to change behaviors and the culture but we don’t know what we want to look like.” We just want to get better and the prescription calls for training.
I find that most training programs do not have any research-driven basis for application and most training does not focus on the application of the knowledge learned versus the amount of information delivered. I can honestly state that most companies that pay good money for training do not see the learned materials being applied in the workplace to help achieve the desired outcome. The key word is application and as the author states, “helping people develop as managers doesn’t mean discussing management or leadership. It means putting people through a set of processes in which they have to experience, try out, and develop their emotional self-control and interactive styles”. I have yet to hear a customer ask me about how programs allow the participant to apply the learned knowledge in the work environment to improve their skills or competencies needed to make them a better manager.
The right approach is to focus on the outcome and then determine the best format to present the knowledge, demonstrate how they can apply the knowledge, and monitor the results whether it is a behavioral or a culture change. Our unique adult learning process is much more effective than event training, yet we have never been asked what format we use to initiate change or focus on desired behaviors. Awareness is an event, planning is an event; implementation requires a process of application and understanding to provide a desired result. The process you choose is the most important ingredient, yet most don’t even care. The learning process you choose can make your training initiative not only immensely powerful, but effective as well. I really find it ironic that most executives are process and results-oriented except when it comes to training. Training is a process that needs to satisfy the needs and desired outcome for any organization or company.
Is your training initiative an event or a process? I bet I know the answer.