The task to train a professional adult within an organization is a complex and delicate mission, that is proved to be so, by high rate of failures.
When I speak of “failures” in the in-house training I am not referring to the fact that learners “didn’t like the course” – on the contrary, generally, they enjoy it a lot – but more to the fact that certain stimuli are just not enough to affect their habits, beliefs, motivation to modify, totally or partially, and leave place to something new.
Yes, because if the competence isn’t re-affirmed later, in fact, it’s not a competence and our goal as educators, to develop it was to no avail.
So it might happen that a salesperson continue to sell in the same way, even if the company is not happy with the results, or that the working atmosphere in that particular group remains negative, despite the lecture about how important is to have a positive one, or that a leader , sent to a residential complex for two-day course to improve his leadership skills, comes back with a nice tan, but without any traces of improved leadership.
Yes, the company training can fail.
But why does it happen?
There could be a never-ending list of reasons, but I’ll try to isolate the main areas that always show a significant impact on the effectiveness or lack of it of corporate training.
The training project is imposed fromabove without appropriate involvement of future learners
“Learning is a door that opens from the inside“, said Chris Argyris, or better to say a desire to acquire knowledge and experience should be present, first of all, in the minds of individuals who then, in fact, will go to the classroom where they will challenge their own attitudes as people and as professionals.
Why? Because learning is difficult, that’s why! And it becomes even more difficult when the worker is forced to do so, while, at the same time, he should carry out all the daily activities that are present inside those same mechanisms that training is trying to change.
The blip moments happen very often: you, the company, oblige me to learn new things, without asking my opinion on this account (and if I just cannot? And if I cut poor figure?), but when I come to work you don’t create for me an environment that allows me to grow this knowledge or put it into practice. So, how do you expect it to be consolidated?
The process elements are not sufficiently taken into account
I overlook the contents, assuming that they will be wonderful (yes, ok). People already resist change as a life choice, imagine what can happen if we transport them in a mini-world that they find uninteresting, not credible, unpleasant, or worse, where they really don’t understand the utility.
Again, the nuances are incalculable, but, as we are reminded by Massimo Bruscaglioni in his fantastic book “Process management in adult education”(La gestione dei processi nella formazione degli adulti), the training environment consists of elements of content and process.
Where the contents are “rational and objective part of the activity”, while the processes are all the emotional, social, relational and subjective implications with regard to the object of learning, to training moment itself and variables of the context-class (included the working group, the location and the teacher).
It goes without saying that the mere fact of getting wrong the classroom composition, the sequence of presentation of the topics, the proposed operations or the management style of the trainer influences the opening of the famous interior door that lets you in or leaves you out.
However, we are well aware that some aspects can never guard completely: we cannot choose the public, employees are what they are; we cannot go to the spa to give lessons, surely it’d be better, we cannot keep employees busy for ten days in a row, even if we know that it would take longer to get some results.
These are structural constraints where we should run the car of the training in the best possible way, without ignoring the consequences of the end result.
The trainers are recognized carriers of technical knowledge, but sometimes lack methodology.
If you deal with training and you have never heard of andragogy or Kolb’s cycle or Dale Cone, repent and go to confess immediately. Every trainer has his experience in terms of schools attended, business experiences, modes of delivery, but there are some basic knowledge without which I find really difficult to seduce an audience and do a good job. Especially if it is a tricky and disenchanted audience, as it often happens in the companies.
No, I’m not talking about special effects, plagiarized from someone else lil’ excersises or creative games, I talk about knowing how the learning processes of an adult function or what elements help to memorize the concepts or a group management techniques while learning, going from euphoric-unrealistic phase to the realistic-depressive one where one starts feeling out of place.
I’m talking about doing things right and knowing what to do, at any time, not by playing psychologists, but by demonstrating the will and power of a sea captain during the storm and letting go the temptation of feeling a great leader in that context, but remaining what every great company trainer should be: a tool at the service of others.