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5 Reasons Why Corporate Training Backfires—And What You Can Do About It

Training solutions are often viewed as a one-size-fits-all to improve employee performance. If you've ever been on the other side of corporate training—whether as a participant, facilitator, or manager—you know that not all training is created equal. In fact, some corporate training can be downright ineffective. Thankfully, yours does not have to be one of them. Here are the top 5 reasons why corporate training backfires — and how to stop it from happening in your organization.

The training has no purpose

Adult learners specifically want to know why they’re attending a training, and they want to be able to use what they learn back on the job, or in their life. When a training course has no purpose for learners, it is a waste of time. Most of us have limited time, to begin with, and so we want to ensure that when we are planning a training, it serves a specific purpose and has actionable takeaways that relate back to someone's job, and can be put into practice right away.

The training just “checks the box”

There is nothing worse than a training that just “checks a box.” Employees know it when they are required to attend a training that simply meets a requirement. The reality is, sometimes there is training that is required of employees. Safety training is a good example. Although the training may be a requirement, it does not mean that it has to be ineffective.

Training that just “checks a box” does not fix a bigger problem, (e.g. reducing safety issues or customer complaints). Consider ways that one can add in actionable skills or that one can apply to their job or life immediately. Training should be part of a bigger system of behavior change over the long-term. If one is only willing to check a box, one shouldn't do the training at all.

You can’t fix an organizational problem with one training

As with “checking the box” training, you can’t fix an organizational problem with a “one-and-done” training. Behavior change takes time. One cannot expect employees to gain mastery of a new concept or skill in just one training session.

A more effective training measure would be to involve management in post-training observation and feedback. This allows employees to practice, garner feedback, and refine their skill in order to master it. When building a training program, consider providing training that builds skills over time. Find a way to involve managers and have them observe and provide feedback to their employees. This will reduce mistakes and increase revenue and productivity over time.

Stakeholders don't buy in (it’s you not me)

Stakeholders need to practice what they preach. Stakeholders have to be willing to get in the trenches with their employees. If one expects their employees to adopt a new behavior or skill and stakeholders are unwilling to support the initiative, the training is a waste of time. Stakeholders may not need to be an expert in a specific skill, but they should have a big picture view of how that skill impacts the organization.

It's boring as all get out

Training for adults does not have to be boring. Lecturing is not the most effective way to teach. Adults have prior knowledge and skills they bring to training and they often want to share their knowledge with others. Additionally, they need to practice to perfect their knowledge and skills. Consider using games, role playing, case studies and even storytelling to make an impact in your next training session. This will not only help to engage learners, it gives them an opportunity to practice what they are learning.

Corporate training is a big and expensive undertaking. It requires a lot of time, money, and effort that can be hard to justify. Design a training program that is effective and engaging to gain long-term results for your organization.


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