Dear ALL

"There is nothing that training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach or below it." Mark Twain regarded training as panacea, but training manager Corsini comments, "I believe in education and the development of people, but I see what happens in our schools, and then I see what happens in companies, and I don't know who's dumber. The business world has nothing on the education world. Both sets of students are bored to death." While practically every management leader emphasises the importance of training, when it comes to allocating resources, management would rather invest in a new photocopier! Employee perception too varies when it comes to training. Most of them hesitate to attend training programmes, as they would have to work extra to make up for the hours spent on training. Gone are the days when participants perceived training programmes as a well-deserved break from the routine office work!

However companies believe that their training sets them apart from competitors. It is thus assumed that training in today's competitive environment is undervalued because of poor managers who adopt traditional methods and organisations with burnt out staff following outdated policies. This is not always true. It's time organisations review critically the training profession. The problem could be with training practitioners.


Professional trainers today, focus more on selling training. So their interest in improving organisational efficacy and employee performance wanes. Moreover, few professionals opt for a primary career as corporate trainers; most are into training for want of anything better. Hence, they lack proficiency in psychology, interpersonal relationships, learning and training content. The profession is also hounded by the belief that trainers don't require updated and advanced knowledge about what they are teaching.

Analysts observed that most training functions are independent of HR and other benchmarking activities with regard to training strategies. This silo approach keeps training from being integrated into strategic organisational planning. To be considered valuable in this rapidly changing business world, training needs to be contemporary. But, almost all training programmes are based on 'pre-events'. Training should be designed to solve 'current problems' as management problems generally occur overnight. Most training programmes target under performers and refuse to treat top performers differently. By 'dumbing' training to fit the 'masses', training often loses its value to high performers. In the global market, training must be customised to suit diverse cultures. Ridden with such problems it shouldn't come as a shock to the management when enormous investments in training programmes fail to yield desired results.

Selling training-pros/cons

When trying to sell training programmes, training vendors face a strange dilemma. Though training qualifies as a business, effective training cannot be categorised as a consumer item. Training vendors often walk into corporate offices armed with impressive brochures hoping to market their programmes. A backward approach to training!

Training is a service that should be customised to meet specified workplace needs. Training needs to be designed to plug in the gaps in employee's current performance. So while training vendors can be very good with their sales pitch and classroom training, employees seldom benefit specifically from training. Hence, the indiscernible differences in overall employee performance. As consumers, organisations should look for professional trainers who are inquisitive and question the purpose of training. Such trainers invariably customise their training content after a thorough assessment of organisational needs. More importantly, they don't treat training as a car sales activity but as a consulting service. Organisations should avoid trainers who believe in the 'one-size-fits-all' training approach and claim that their training can solve all issues.

Poorly trained trainers

A case in point

A trainer was contracted to demonstrate ways to conduct searches in a proprietary legal database. This trainer did not know all the keystroke equivalents for the "point and click" mouse / icon instructions. He was also unfamiliar with screen readers and their affect on the usability of the database. Trainers with such meagre smattering of knowledge reinstate the belief that 'little knowledge is dangerous'!

Consumer organisations are unaware of different training models. Yet they are not expected to spend time knowing more about them. End-users in fact expect training vendors to be equipped with contemporary and comprehensive training programmes. As most trainers lack sufficient academic acumen, they are more rigid in their approach to learning. Trainees are likely to detect that when such trainers conduct a seminar on one topic and then move on to the other, they use identical learning activities!

To camouflage their inadequacies, smart trainers create seminars that are fun but teach minimal skills and concepts. As participant feedback ratings are highly influenced by enjoyment rather than the amount of learning, the lack of expertise in training methods and content is seldom detected. After such a training session the employee returns to his workstation no wiser than before!

Even though it is hard for organisations to be always educated 'training' consumers they need to review the training backgrounds of each of the prospective trainers and the training content. Ideally, a trainer should be academically qualified. Though it doesn't guarantee effective training, he would at least be aware of the principles of training and learning.

A lack in training culture

Lotus Development Corporation spent millions to develop tools and a training curriculum to reinforce their sales methodology. Nevertheless, the trainers were unable to present skills to suit the new sales practices. Moreover, the new product training was more aligned with the old way of selling. Wendy Stone, the training manager says, "It (training) frustrated sales people." She terms such training as 'destructive investment'. Trainers generally move into training after reading a couple of books on training and attending a seminar or two! They believe that trainers need not be highly proficient; and that basic knowledge of the subject matter qualifies them as trainers. The following quotes by trainers reflect this culture.

" What's wrong with stand-up trainers working in content areas they are not experts in? "

" When I first started out on my own as a trainer, I said yes to almost anything."

" We quite frequently agree to undertake training projects in which we are not all familiar with the associated content."

Such a culture promotes trainers with knowledge based on half-truths and myths. Incompetent trainers lose their credibility when they cannot answer queries that require advanced knowledge. If a trainer can learn a skill from a book so can an employee!

While shopping for trainers, organisations should search for trainers specialised in specific training content. They should ask trainers from where they have mastered the topic. An expert trainer will give multiple references. Less competent trainers mar the reputation of the profession. Fortunately there are many skilled professionals who can undo the damage. It's for organisations to identify them.

Solutions through answers

The Forum Corporation, a training consultancy firm looked at decades of research on training and learning to understand what creates value for training. Their report recommends that training managers answer the following questions for a reality check.

Is training linked and relevant to business goals?

Does strong leadership support it and does it reflect organisational culture?

Does it help the organisation address customer retention, acquisition, lower costs and greater innovation?

Can it map an employee's path to mastering skills?

Does it lead to measurable results?

Valuable training is instantly gratifying. If delivered on the job by a credible person it results in measurable business impacts



From India, Delhi
Hi Rajeev,
I first thought, this must be some promotional mailer for some consultancy, but after I went through I realised the importance of the topic and what an eye opener it is.
Good post dude!! Keep Posting!!!
Muthukumar K

From India, Mumbai
Rajeev, This is fantastic. Thankx a ton. Keep posting. You recollected and reminde the values and duties of T & D. we appreciate it. Chhers, karthikghali
From India, Coimbatore
Dear Raj,
A good reading. Nevertheless, I have certain points to make.
When you speak of trainers having the concerned knowledge, what kind of qualification , in basic terms are you looking at /speaking about.
But yes, the points highlighted by you in the final para are in fact the most important.
Also, the latest trends in training suggest not to look at the ROI format rather than on the RETURN ON EXPECTATION. This according to the experts (in training) will help assess training even in a better way.

From India, Mumbai
Hi Rajiv,
I completely agree to the issues raised by you pertaining to T & D. Being myself a traininng professionsal these are the very bottle necks that i have faced for the last 9 years.
Training is not seen as value addition or an aprroach to equip ourselves in getting new skills. I have come very few managers in the project teams who are active and understand its importance. At times they are totally blank and are not able to do the skill gap analysis for their own teams. Obviously the intended obejetives of the training programes are lost and we are not in a position to evelaute training effectiveness
thanks and regards

From India, Bangalore
Yes Karthik, you are very right.
As far as my experience concern We are lacking passoionate people in training and development. The present scene is that novice trainers are not learning technicality of the training they just believe on deliver the session.
We trainers are like actors and we have to play our role so that movie going to be super hit in other words, highly powerful session as well as impactable session.
I guess if you are not passonate about your work it means you are effecting entire process.
What do you think?

From India, Delhi
Very true Rajiv. I think rajiv you the only one person in my whole career who are in sync with my thoghts on T & D. The training is not at all linked to performance. there is no process for training effectiveness.
I have been talking to lot of trainers and all they are concerned about is how many programs they can do in amonth and make money.
That holds good for organizations as well. they just want some training to be done for their employees,irrespective of whether they are relevant to the team or individual. Its more of a paid holiday for the participants.
I am yet to come across really good professionals who understands the impact and significance of T & D. and they are not linked to HR as righlty pointed out by you. Almost all training function are independent of HR.

From India, Bangalore
People are just reading books and become a trainer. They make their session full of entertainment package rather learnable session.
Entertainment should be there but it should be related to topic to be covered in the session.
Even I have attended two session by these so called trainer but there was only entertainment no learning.
These type of people making our job tuff and quality of training is going ineffective as well as cheap.
As training business is booming like anything but these type of people having bookish knowledge will effect entire training community.

From India, Delhi
Hi Rajiv
Its nice that you have taken the time to document all the critical points.
Here are my thoughts..
Training is still evolving in INdia with both with the trainers, training service providers and HR / L n D as well.
Eventuall things that dont work will get phased out ...but there is another question which bothers me all the time do we sustain learning in organisations ..beccause the moment people leave the training hall they go back to fire fighting ......All action plans are out of the window...
There we see a larger challenge especially in a n indian context where the term discipline is still term used with children in school. We at ninedots are fighting a war to sustain learning every time there is a flavor of the month initiative in organisations
My 2 cents

From India, Bangalore
The common fault that besets practitioners in training and development is lack of program follow-up for their participants.

Many trainers are content that their participants have "feel good" reaction to a training program they conducted but sad to say they do not realize if the learning has been transferred to the workplace. In fact, many companies do not even bother to pursue the other three levels of training evaluation. Hence, the value of training is lost along the way.

In my 16-year career in training and development, I would say that it is better for a company to have its own training and development department rather than outsourcing this activity. In the first place, training and development is part of HR management. Unfortunately, management nowadays prefer to have training outsourced. The reason for this is they look training merely as another activity with no quantifiable value.

If there is a department dedicated to training and development, it can demonstrate to the management the ROI of training by providing information on the third and fourth level of evaluation and second, through its own initiative, develop a follow-up program for training participants to ensure that learning is being used in the workplace. The training department can also provide pro-active consultancy for its internal clients (i.e. training officers checking periodically on the manager and his staff with regards to their development). By doing this the training practitioner can also evaluate if his training program is effective or not before undertaking the whole training cycle again.

This can be a gargantuan task but I believe it is worth the effort. However, it will be better to sell the idea to other managers as well to keep them supporting and actively participating in the initiative.

From Saudi Arabia,

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