When is training the answer? (hint: never)

8 May

Training, be it instructor-led (ILT), an e-learning course, blended learning or what-have-you, is not the answer. Never. It is at best part of an answer.

The reason of course is that training in isolation may lead to knowledge. Knowledge is good, no question about it. But as I discussed in my last post and elsewhere, knowledge doesn’t do anything. Good is good for nothing in the workplace. Skills, attitudes, motivation, and reward are what gets the job done.

So, as this terrific video from Cathy Moore points out, when your ears buzz because someone in your organization says “I need training,” your job should not be to say “OK.” The request should begin a process of inquiry—and a process of internal education—that will lead to the best business solutions to the problem.

See the full post here to download the flowchart.

Cathy Moore is spot on (as usual… I encourage you to check out her great site!), but only half the way home. Training may be part of a set of answers that will address the root of the business need. But what Cathy sort of implies but does not state directly here is that without the cultural, motivational and supportive tools, the trainee will not be able to effectively transfer the training.

In the example here, if the staff go through the training and are able to correctly identify a Spanish last name, does that mean they will do it consistently? Not necessarily. In order to achieve the business need (correct data entry), the staff has to

  • Be given the time and managerial support to take the training
  • Understand why it is important to the business and to themselves (carrot and/or stick)
  • Have the motivation to apply it every time
  • The reminders and reinforcements over time to make it second nature.

In other words, training may be an answer, but it is never THE answer. As trainers we have to admit to this reality and work to get others to understand that everyone has a stake in improving performance.

2 Responses to “When is training the answer? (hint: never)”


  1. Digital Curation as Learning Outcome | In the Learning Age - May 16, 2013

    […] But as I made the case before, knowledge is not my department. […]

  2. Objection Sustained? Not if you hit objections head on | In the Learning Age - October 7, 2013

    […] and internalized. If you can’t discover the direct relevance of a particular course, see this earlier post or the Cathy Moore topic it refers […]

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