So Much Training, So Little Development

Jun 05, 2023

I’ve been in the training and consulting world for 34 years. During that time, I’ve observed two distinct patterns.

Pattern #1: Proliferation of Training

Today, we are inundated with training options. Whatever topic you need, there are multiple training programs available: AI, software, leadership, teams, culture, communication, machines, and mechanics... The list is almost endless. With numerous programs to choose from, it can be challenging to know which one to choose. Sure, course creators often claim that their course is unique (like nothing else in the world!), but in truth, many of them are just variations of existing programs.

Moreover, the methods of training have expanded to cater to everyone's needs. While individual self-driven online courses have become the norm, in-house training, interactive training, and experiential training still play crucial roles in the training landscape. Whatever training method you require, there will always be someone who can provide it.

Pattern #2: Declining Development

With so much training, you would think that team member development would be exploding also. WRONG! While the internet and classrooms are flooded with knowledge and training, team member development has plateaued in most sectors. Why doesn't performance reach new heights each month, considering the wealth of information available? There are plenty of reasons, but there is one big one:

Information instead of application.

We often assume that individuals are self-driven. They simply need more information to excel. And, if we provide them with the right information, their performance will soar. That's a bad assumption. And, to make matters worse, the heart of this issue doesn't lie with the team members themselves—it lies with you, the leader. It’s a flawed assumption most leaders have about people.

Most people are adapters. They adjust to the environment they find themselves in, and their ability to rise to greatness or wallow in mediocrity depends on how they are led. As a result, most people go to training and then go back to work. They might modify around 10% of their practices, but that's typically the extent of it. Why is that?

No expectation of application.

People don’t apply their training because there is no clear expectation of how it should be applied. The next time someone attends training, hold a brief meeting with them. Ask them what they expect to learn and how they plan to apply it. After the training, have another brief meeting and ask them about what they learned and how they plan to apply it. The following week, meet again to assess what they are using from the training. For leaders, discussing an expectation of application with their team members changes everything.  It bridges the gap between just learning knowledge and actually applying it to grow your organization. 

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