Yesterday I shared my not so subtle opinions about why training is often a waste of time. I mentioned a couple common problems:
1. I think the focus of training is often wrong.
2. I think training methods don’t facilitate short-term or long-term application.
3. Many training sessions are taught by the wrong people.
So what is the alternative? I realize that some of my comments might fit into the "don’t bite the hands that feed you," category because I am a consultant and trainer for hire. I would LOVE to do training for your company and I think it is important you know where I stand on how training ought to be done. Here are a few thoughts:
- Teach a man to fish….
- Teach topics and people learn topics. Teach people how to own, think, relate, and work, they figure out and seek out the topics they need to understand.
- Sheep dip and you have a flock of sterile sheep. This is a fine approach if your employees have fleas.
The focus of your core training should be on creating the space and capability for great thinking and relationships. Engaged and focused individuals and teams will determine the development they need and seek it. To support this highly able workforce, your training resources should be nimble, flexible, and highly custom to each group.
"Oh, but Lisa, we are a huge corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees in different sites. We can’t do this. It is highly impractical and tough to measure. Our competency model is the backbone of you training."
Impractical? And the current system makes sense? Tough to measure? Not if you focus on the right metrics. Yep, you can do this and it will cost less than your precious university concept and expensive and fancy knowledge management software (don’t get me started on corporate universities and fancy software to track training or "knowledge"). And if your competency model is the backbone of your training, you are likely paralyzed and unable to lift your performance.
I want to train people to think well, work together well, think better together, and plan and execute work. When I am successful, all the other stuff pops up when and if needed. This is the 20% cream of the crop development that gets you the 80% of performance and success.
- Another 3 day training class? Calgon take me away!
- Another offsite retreat? Even the king with no clothes can see this is barely helpful.
- It’s like the husband who buys his wife a waffle iron for a gift. He wants waffles! When we schedule these events, we make ourselves feel better. Training professionals justify their existence with classroom days and 4.9s out of 5s on smile sheets.
- Corporate universities = MACRO approach. Think MICRO NICHE.
Traditional classroom training and online versions that mimic this are not very effective. Sometimes it is great to kick things off, I guess. Classroom stuff is not designed to last. I prefer shorter and more frequent contacts APPLIED to real projects, real goals, real situations.