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How to Avoid a Train[ing] Wreck

Bored in MtgIt’s no secret that training is the first on the chopping block in organizations when times get tough. Many trainers lament the fact that they get no respect. Regrettably, there is often good reason for these opinions.

According to a 2019 study by Training, organizational budgets for training are declining. Many times, this comes when there is no perceived ROI. CEOs are pulling their hair out over the failure of training programs. This includes both inside and outside training programs. A typical example is communication.

Upon a few communication failures such as information being withheld, unnecessary communication, not enough communication, inappropriate communication, the wrong communication, etc., etc., etc. someone in management calls for communication training, Dutifully, the in-house trainer slaps together a communication training and everyone is required to attend, they also must sign off that they’ve been, and there may even be penalties if one does not attend. Of course, managers are exempt from attending. Everyone attends and six-weeks later, there are more communication fiascos. Sound familiar? What can be done to stop such training wrecks? Keeping with our communication example…

  • One important question to ask is has a communication system been implemented?

“A corporate communication plan needs to address the right stakeholders with the right information, through the right channel, at the right time. Communication is central to successful strategy execution and improved business performance” (van Hove, 2016).

  • Another question to ask is what are the polices concerning your communication system?

For example, the rule might be that if three or four emails are exchanged on a particular topic, a face-to-face meeting is needed.

These two questions might help determine the problem. However, if no system or policy is in place for a particular topic, then the following ideas might be in order.

First, conduct a needs assessment. The needs assessment needs to drill down to the core cause. Uncovering true problems involves more than just asking a few managers “What do you think is wrong with our [insert topic here]?” Here are a few of the tools needed to find out if training is the solution or if some other solution is the answer.

  1. Administer anonymous surveys
  2. Conduct interviews
  3. Examine any current policies around the topic being considered
  4. Hold “town hall” meetings
  5. Have people become observers and note takers for three months recording day-to-day communication (or whatever the issue might be). Next compile that information using graphs and tables making it easy to read and understand.
  6. Ensure that the solutions align with the organization's strategic plan.

During times of crisis, is not the time to cut back on training and development. People need to understand that their organization still thinks they are important enough to invest in for the future.

Yes, these elements take time, but you wind up with more reliable and in-depth information. This allows you to develop a training program that targets the heart of an issue and devise more effective and longer lasting solutions. In the long run, this saves time, money, aggravation while increasing productivity and avoiding train[ing] wrecks that can derail training credibility.

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