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Are You Training or Ticking the Box?

By Kevin Dwyer

A higher proportion of money is wasted on training which is inappropriate or just downright poor than almost any other corporate expense. I have seen organisations make the same mistakes with training all over the world. Here are my top ten.

#1 There is never any follow up! Training which imparts a skill or knowledge which is not reviewed or used within seven days is remembered by only thirty three percent of people. After sixty three days it is only 14%. Training which is reviewed or used directly in a job is remembered by 83% of people after seven days and 70% of people after 63 days. It is the old story, use it or lose it!

#2 Training is boring. Training which includes no interaction between the trainer and the participants or does not engage the participants is likely to fail. The first process in memory is ATTENTION! If the participant is not paying attention, the probability of remembering anything is very low. Training is not solely about subject knowledge; the trainer must have a personality and be able to talk with people at their level.

#3 Training, presentation style, was never appropriate in the first place! Often the resources used for training about theory, including the opportunity cost of participants, could be used for developing a series of small workshops and mentoring to actually resolve a problem rather than learn theory. The learning is held for much longer because people are doing and getting feedback rather than sitting in a classroom and the organisation gets a better result.

Alternatively, the learning outcomes if they are all knowledge based may be chunked down to a small enough size to use e-learning technologies.

#4 The training has no goal and no clear benefit for the recipient. Often born of poor training needs analysis where employees, supervisors and managers are asked, "What training do you/your subordinates need?" Training built on a needs analysis that is this shallow is bound to have little impact back at work for the participants, although it might help build their CV.

#5 Completing training is seen by the organisation as doing enough. Individuals throughout a organisation who see the mere fact that they completed a course or a degree as proof of ability are only fooling themselves. Executive teams who treat training the same way are costing their organisation money.

#6 Lets cram it all in. Training overload is as bad as no training at all. Often courses are crammed too full of information as managers and human resource personnel try to make up for a lack of previous training. In the case of training, less is surely more. People are capable of retaining 7 2 things at a time. If we want them to remember some things they already have in their head, we had better leave it at three things to remember in a training day.

#7 The training equipment does not work! If in doubt blame the technology, I say. It is better than admitting that I did not prepare well enough by testing the venue, the provided equipment and my equipment for compatibility.

#8 Only measure the "smile sheet". Training evaluation is much more than the reaction people have to the material and the presenter. The American Society for Training and Development reports that only 3% of training was evaluated at Kirkpatrick's "level 4" of training evaluation "results" where there is an impact on the organisation. In contrast, 95% of training was evaluated at "level 1" where the participants liked the training.

Only 37% of training was evaluated at "level 2" where participants learnt the material and 13% of training was evaluated at "level 3" where participants applied the learning in the workplace. Training measures have to be developed for the workplace to see if the organisation is getting its money's worth.

#9 Don't do training at all. Organisations think that they can't afford to give people time to get trained. They need to think again! Well-trained employees are more capable and willing to assume more control over their jobs and they need less supervision, which frees management for other tasks. Productivity and job satisfaction increases and organisations become more effective in reaching their goals.

#10 Training is not reinforced. For training to be effective, it must be reinforced by policies and processes which complement the training. For example, training people on giving "excellent" customer service and having a policy for resolving customer complaints which requires escalation to general manager level is a waste of time and money.

Leaders must also echo the training in their behaviour towards employees and the building of formal and informal rewards systems.

Next time its time to train your staff, think carefully whether you are really going to train them or are just ticking a box on the list of good management practices.

Kevin Dwyer is Director of Change Factory. Change Factory helps organisations who do do not like their business outcomes to get better outcomes by changing people's behaviour. Businesses we help have greater clarity of purpose and ability to achieve their desired business outcomes. To learn more visit or email 2006 Change Factory

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