Why Training in Isolation Doesn’t Work

A while back, I was speaking with a colleague who was working with an organization to launch their Lean Manufacturing implementation. We talked about what strategies he planned to start with and then I asked him what training he would be rolling out. He replied that he wasn’t going to do any training, as they had tried in the past and it didn’t work.

I have to admit I was a little surprised. I couldn’t imagine rolling out something as big as Lean without some kind of training component. I started to question him on his perception of ‘training doesn’t work,’ and a common theme became very clear: training in isolation doesn’t work.

Many times when there is a problem to solve, the answer is ‘let’s do some training.’ In order to satisfy this ‘need,’ we schedule training events and assume that we have done our due diligence. But there are two important components that we forget: needs assessment and follow-up. These before-and-after pieces are often as critical as the training itself!

  • Needs Assessment – A needs assessment is critical to ensure you are arranging for training that will meet your needs. Most training sessions we perceive as ‘ineffective’ are the result of not determining what we need up front. Assessments can be complex surveys for large teams, or a simple list of questions that could include some of these. Either way, it should help you make some important decisions on the business gaps you are targeting and the intended audience. It will also help you to consider the best mode of delivery for your training.
  • Follow-Up – We need to start going beyond what we affectionately refer to as ‘smiley sheets.’ (You know the ones….they are handed out after every training session and usually include 5-10 questions on the material, delivery, and trainer.) Effective training needs to impact our knowledge, skills, and/or behavior, and we can only determine our effectiveness by going back to the trainees. Here are some simple, creative ways to follow-up with training participants in your organization.

Okay, I could go on all day about this one…but I digress. Just remember – training is most effective when it is part of a large scale plan complete with proper planning and effective follow-up.