After many years as a line manager in technology companies and 20 years in a corporate consulting and business training firm I see little change in the efficacy of business training developed inside the businesses or awarded to outside companies based on lowest cost. It is all too often a perfunctory attempt at providing information without context, practice or relevance to the needs of the attendees and consequently has little bottom line impact for the company or application for the person taking the training.
Some examples of irrelevant training
Many people are sent to classes without knowing why they are going or the importance to them and their company of what they are expected to learn. How many times have we all experienced:
Being sent to an ethics, finance, leadership, delegation, budgeting, communications, facilitation, listening, public speaking, time management, customer service etc. class [es] provided by an employer without knowing why you are there, what is expected of you when you return, what is in it for you but most importantly how to apply it to you current position?
Classes at ones workplace or workshops outside the company need to provide interaction for the audience participants regarding implementation, time to discuss how to apply the material and time to practice what is being taught.
What does it look like when training relevance is taken seriously?
There are professions where training is relevant and measureable by design. Airplane pilots, doctors, nurses, and similar professions where liability and visibility is high have relevance designed in to their curriculum. A pilot learning to fly a new airplane knows what airplane he or she will fly, its performance limitations and characteristics. Training is provided on how to work the controls as well as for how to fly it in various conditions of weather, aircraft weight, visibility and other conditions. Progress is measured by tests both written and oral and by observation of progress by experts. Similarly doctors and nurses, plumbers, electricians and many others professions all require that they demonstrate predetermined knowledge and capabilities before practicing their art or craft.
Should we care?
If company money (shareholder value) is used and people?s time taken from their work then management should care. If anyone will act on these issues it should be a member of senior management or the person from whose budget the resources are coming to pay for it and the person for whom the people being trained work. After all why should working people spend time on anything that does not improve their contribution to the company?
The bottom line
Whether you are a manager requiring training of your employee[s] or someone who is being sent to a class make sure to investigate how it will help you and the company. Whether what you will learn is applicable in your current position or preparing you for your next one. How will you be able to practice or implement the skills the training is designed to provide and is it of value to the company.
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