Most of my professional life has been devoted to learning and development management and organizational change management. I’m always struck by the ease with which managers reach for training as some sort of panacea to cure every ail.
It’s a common mistake made every day by managers who seek to develop the skills of their team and mitigate performance issues. Got a skills gap? Let’s throw some training at it. Have a development need? Let’s do more training. Got a performance issue? Let’s schedule a training session. Someone not on board with the program? Training . . . training . . . and still more training.
Training is seemingly the default solution to every problem with little thought given to whether it’s the right solution to the problem or the right fit for the current development need.
Now, all this may seem a bit odd coming from someone who leads a safety-leadership training and development company. But as an Organization Effectiveness practitioner, I’m really not saying anything new. Nor am I suggesting that training should be excluded as part of a solution.
But when it is part of the solution, it is always only the beginning of the development process, never the end game. Stated differently, “training ain’t development,“ and the sooner we come to terms with that the sooner we’ll rid ourselves of the false expectations and attendant frustration that we create for ourselves when we rely too heavily on a training class to build knowledge and skills or cure performance issues.
Don’t get me wrong; Training has a seat at the table, but it is not the head seat. That belongs to something called “outcomes.” When a client approach me requesting training for their group my first response back to them is usually, What are you hoping this training will fix? What are you trying to accomplish? What are your goals? What are your desired outcomes? What things need to change? What needs to look different at the end of it? The focus should always be on future-state outcomes.
Training may very well be the road to those outcomes, or it may be something else entirely. Or (more typically) it may a combination of things of which training is merely one component. The point is, to be successful at development we need to think in terms of outcomes rather than how much training someone may need.
We’ll begin to break all this down next time. But that’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time be sure all your safety initiatives are built in, not bolted on.
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