Obstacles to Applying Training:
Know Your Options
be prepared for when the workplace doesn't help apply your training
(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)
If you have been in the training business any length of time, you have encountered a situation where you knew excellent training was going to have little impact, due to the work environment. By this I mean that no matter how inspired and enlightened employees were at the end of the training session, they were then returning to their usual posts -- with the processes, surrounding attitudes, co-worker habits, support systems, and, especially, the rewards and penalties applied by their supervisors all influencing their ability to do their jobs as they have just been trained to do them.
If that supporting environment is a good match for what goes on in training, the company reaps the benefits of the training. If that environment is seriously out of synch with the training message, or even opposed to it, the most brilliant trainer with the finest content in the world cannot shift how those employees work.
I know a training consultant who was hired by the owners of a small- to moderate-size business because he had a very effective approach to a crucial business process. The owners wanted all of their employees to execute this process in new, more effective ways, and this consultant was knowledgeable and energetic, an excellent communicator, the perfect person for the job.
Having dealt mostly with the company leadership, it took a few sessions with groups of employees to realize that what he had taught about this process was not being taken back to people's desks. Why?
Because the forms, software, and supporting systems were still stuck in the old way of doing things!
He had a choice: keep quiet and continue to take their money, or raise the issue . . . with the risk that they might cancel training sessions. He chose to speak up, brought executive leadership information they needed, and helped move the company in the right direction. But with a less capable leadership team, he might have had a different outcome.
The best time to make decisions about how you will handle this situation -- which happens with internal training functions just as easily as it does with external consultants -- is before you face it. If the training cannot have much impact, because of the environment employees return to after training, is that your problem? Is that the department's problem? Is that the company's problem?
Are you willing to just keep pounding away, even though you know you are not making a contribution to the company? Or should you recommend discontinuing that training and applying the resources somewhere where it will make a difference?
At the top of your training department, you need to have discussions about what to do in these situations. Whom would you contact if you encountered this problem with a particular training topic, or a particular internal client? How hard are you willing to push?
I'm not suggesting that I have any "right answers" that apply to every organization. Sometimes, in some places, it may be best just to keep going and let someone else worry about the return the company is getting.
But you will serve your organization much better if you consider this issue before you have to deal with it in real time, ahead of any confrontation with other staff. A consistent approach to making sure training and other supporting elements of a process, procedure, or standard line up with one another will save you a lot of strain, and may save your company a lot of wasted time and money.
© 2010 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny
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