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Why Training Fails

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Sorry if this sounds a bit negative, but as we embark on a new year full of great ideas and good intentions, I wanted to share some of the reasons I've seen for training failing. By raising awareness, hopefully you can avoid these mistakes and get real value from your


 L&D effort this year. So, in no particular order... 

1. Timing - Too early, and people will forget, too late and... well, it's too late!

2. Content - It is tempting to try and give all the content at once, but this causes overload. Its better to concentrate on the 20% of content that will cover 80% of requirements, make this mandatory, and then cover the other 80% later as a masterclass.  

3. Synergy - Providing training that isn't directly related to the job or the company priority has limited impact. People are just too focussed on the day to day demands of the role. If the link isn't clear, DNA rates will be high! 

4. Method - Too much training is still all about download, whether its in a classroom or online. People need to be actively engaged in training for it to stick. Using a variety of methods appealing to different learning styles, and keeping it active is vital. 

5. 'Fit' - Similar to synergy and method, the training has to feel right and be easy to understand and use. Training that feels too far removed from the daily reality will be dismissed. If you buy in generic training, deliver it yourself, or use a trainer who knows your business so that they can tailor the content to fit. using examples about office behaviour is pointless if your audience works in a warehouse for example. 

6. Assessment - Just because some has attended doesn't mean they've understood. Just because they understand doesn't mean they can DO. Checks should be built in to measure learning (in a positive way) to provide extra help for people who don't get it first time, or simply need longer to learn. 

7. Application - What gets measured gets done. Perhaps the biggest problem I see is complete lack of follow up in the workplace. It doesn't matter what trainers say - what managers say/want is what gets done, so unless people are expected to apply learning back at work, they often won't.  

8. Separation - Training is often seen as something separate to work, and an additional task. Encouraging informal as well as formal training helps to incorporate learning into everyday operations. Develop managers as trainers and coaches and (most importantly) allow them time to train and coach on the job!

 I'm sure you can come up with another 2 reasons to make this a 'Top Ten'. Take steps to avoid these common mistakes and get the most out of your L&D effort this year! 

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  1. Joy

    Thanks for the article Louise. I have been co-facilitating recently. The material provided is very basic and "full of holes" which means open to interpretation. The effect of this on a global roll out is worrying. As is the diversity amongst the trainers delivering on the project - some are able to add substance to the material, others deliver verbatim...both approaches are concerning...I guess I would add to the list - make learning outcomes very clear...and match activities accordingly.

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  2. Reandi Meij

    Hi, I agree. Great article. I would like to add the 9th way to make training successful. Motivation through achievement : Achievement leads to self-confidence, a positive self-image and has various other positive effects on a person. Training can only be successful if people know how to learn; unfortunately most do not know how to. Facilitate the development of people's ability to reach academic goals, by giving people the basic tools to learn effectively. Give them a combination of learning tools, in a structured way, combined with just enough scientific background, for them to be able to understand how the learning process works. This will bring them closer to achieving their full potential in tests and exams and then practically applying the new information successfully in their workplace. It ultimately leads to more achievement, creating in the process a lifestyle of learning and achievement.

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  3. David Dayman

    A great article!

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