Training: probably not the answer

It may strike you as rather self-defeating for a person who works in and around L&D to write a blog like this. But my goal has always been to work on projects that make a difference, rather than simply going through the motions of convention.

My observation working both at big corporates like BP and as a consultant, is that often training is used as a way to plaster (bandaid) over a problem. Here are a few examples:

Solution – IT training – Actual problem – Bad system user experience.

Solution – leadership training – Actual problem – Technical experts in management positions (i.e. bad promotion practices and a lack of career options for experts not suited to be people managers).

Solution – diversity and inclusion training – Actual problem – recruiting from a small pool of talent e.g. only those with a degree from a well-known university.

You get the idea. The broader strategic issue as I see it, is training is often used as a way to avoid real change. Updating systems, processes and policies is far more disruptive than running a training programme which ‘ticks the box’.

Actual change also requires a greater commitment from leaders. In some cases they need to fight against forces of conservatism which could ultimately cost them. It’s always safer to do what’s expected, as a perhaps non-so-great man once said, ‘no one ever got fired for not making a decision’.

Part of the enjoyment of working is solving problems together, if you’re not asking the right questions, you may not actually be solving the problem. So my call to action would be this: always ask yourself, ‘why training?’ Chances are it’s the easy option, but not the one that’ll make the difference in the long-term.

This blog is a bit of a nod to @cathymoore who came up with this training decision tree. Enjoy the video.

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Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash