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Why most training interventions fail? | ideas groupIn today's business environment, efficiency is the ultimate goal to save resources and reach effective operational cycle. Training is used among other means to help reach that purpose.  American companies spend as much as 200 billion dollars on training interventions (Carnevale, Gainer, and Villet 1990). Most of that budget is considered a waste and most importantly it does not achieve the desired objectives. As a result, businesses have diverted their focus to measure training effectiveness, and its Return on Investment. Although researchers have tried continuously to find the magical equation to calculate training effectiveness, yet it is still an area of continuous debate. There are two schools of thought in this regard: For example, Philips (1990) devised a methodology to quantify training results and called it Training ROI. At the other bank of the river, DeSimone, Werner, and Harris (2006) stated that training effectiveness is a "relative" matter. Given both schools of thoughts, the fact remains that the squandered resources on training remain an area of business concern.   Taking a closer look into such matter, it is valid to ask why most training interventions fail? Such question was legitimized by Cromwell & Colbs' (2004) finding that "not more than 15% of learning transfer to the job, after attending any training". Such finding is astonishing! From my experience in training management, and as a trainer for 10 years now, the reasons for training failure are:   1.    Training is not designed for specific purpose. Generic training has no specific objectives to accomplish.    2.    Training not related to trainees' daily work. Concepts addressed in training are not paralleled to the trainees' daily work functions and not applicable to what they do and therefore irrelevant to their need. 3.    Training style used is not aligned with the training objectives. This is a common illness in training because trainers use delivery methods that do not serve the needed purpose. For example, the trainer chooses to lecture the concept designed to equip trainees with new skills. Such method may be suitable to deliver certain information however it is least effective in the case of skills oriented training.  4.    Inappropriate training needs analysis (TNA). TNA is the core process in defining the required competencies to be trained. In most cases, TNAsare done as "Cherries picking", where staff and their managers choose their courses without digging deeper in the selected courses. There should be a clear understanding of the business functions and processes in order to do the TNAs properly. 5.    Trainees are not motivated. From my experience, I have seen many people attending training, for the following reasons: a.    Build their CV and compile as many courses as possible. b.    Escape work and consider training as a "run a way". c.     Forced by the manager to attend training without being informed of the training benefits.  A few people whom I trained came with focused thoughts about the deriving benefits from training and how to use it in daily work. 6.    Training does not build the required competency but entertains them.  This is the case where the trainer does not tackle the courses' objectives and deviate to focus on side issues and entertain trainees instead. As a matter of fact, the smiling sheet evaluation fails here because scoring a 95% does not necessarily mean that the course was effective. 7.    Trainees often struggle to apply the new skills learned. After training, trainees feel motivated because they have learned new concepts and tools to apply in their daily work. However this motivation might be killed by the existing culture at their workplace if it is resistant to any kind of change or if their manager and peers are not supportive enough to apply what they have learned. 8.    No post-training, follow-up and support. After any training, support and follow up should be made available to the employee when required. 9.    Too much information given during training. This problem happens when trainers flood trainees with too much information, making them lose track and focus during the training. 10.Loss of focus on courses' objectives. Some courses are designed to tackle a concept like sales. However, as the course proceeds, time is spent on talking about how to handle difficult customers during sales instead of focusing on selling skills, which is the main focus. 11.Theoretical training. Nothing expressed in the training but theories and lack of applications. As a result, trainees loose interest with the course because it is does not reflect real business environment. 12.No real life cases. Cases help trainees relate to real business environment and feel that what they do is part of real business practice. Without real life cases, trainees will be disconnect from such stream. 13.No variety in training activities. Given that people learn in different ways, ineffective training delivery focuses only on one approach and ignores others, which leads to losing audience attention. 14.Training is a process not an event. Follow up, refresh training, and feedback, all are important elements to ensure that the process is active and fruitful. But if training is treated as a stand alone event, then the development chain is broken. 15.Training venue is not properly equipped. An interesting comment I received from one trainee, in one of my courses, where he said: "I am happy that the course is over because the chairs were painful". Imagine sitting for 3 continuous hours on periods of 2 to 4 days on an uncomfortable chair, will you be thinking about the training or the pain caused by the chair? On the other hand, the training venue should also have the following facilities to deliver a successful training intervention, like flip charts, projector, room for breakout activity and space to move around.       Nizar Baidoun Certified Trainer & Consultant