27 September 2023

Train in vain: Why training and development is not a silver bullet

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Lin Grensing-Pophal* says employee training and development efforts can solve a lot of problems, but if they don’t address structural issues, they will fail.

We talk a lot about the importance of training, and it certainly is important; however, we thought it would be appropriate to address a common pitfall many organisations encounter when it comes to employee development and organisational change: adhering to the misconception that training is a silver bullet to solve organisational ills.

Make sure that training matters

Training can certainly solve many organisational problems and improve performance generally, but employers often throw money at a problem by implementing a training program even though they don’t truly understand the problem’s root cause – and we’re talking about a lot of money.

Training is a good solution primarily when there are concrete skills that need to be developed, according to Ron Carucci.

“Training can be a powerful medium when there is proof that the root cause of the learning need is an undeveloped skill or a knowledge deficit,” Carucci says.

“For those situations, a well-designed program with customised content, relevant case material, skill building practise, and a final measurement of skill acquisition, works great.”

Training won’t tackle structural problems

By contrast, many organisations erroneously spend money on training even though the true problems are more structural.

These problems could include inefficient or ineffective processes, an organisational culture that’s not aligned with the organisation’s goals, or a poor organisational design.

These problems need to be addressed from the top down by working with executives rather than training frontline employees and mid-level managers.

The moral of the story here is that although employee training and development efforts can and should play a key role in any organisation, these efforts should be utilised when there is a need to impart specific skills or information on employees.

When there are fundamental challenges and weaknesses, training alone will likely be ineffective.

* Lin Grensing-Pophal is a business journalist and content marketer. She tweets at @LinWriter. Her website is lingrensingpophal.com.

This article first appeared at hrdailyadvisor.blr.com

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