Monday, 28 September 2015

The trouble with 'Training'

Training vs Learning and introducing Performance

Image from


I’m a huge fan of training/learning/development/performance interventions – it’s been my ‘bread and butter’ for many years and I believe that organisations who do it well will have happy, engaged, productive, capable staff who in turn provide excellent services and results. But whilst learning is something we should aim for as a constant, training should not be done constantly and just for the sake of it.

In my experience if you mention ‘training’ many people will still think of a classroom based intervention. Hence I do prefer the term ‘learning’. When we talk about training, we are lead down the road of asking ‘what training do you want/need to do’ whereas talking learning gives us the better option of ‘what do you want to learn?’– A subtle difference but an important one as one focusses on the intervention and the other the expected outcome.

When I started in this area the role, my role was ‘Training Officer’. Then came ‘training and development’ titles followed by ‘learning and development’ jobs. Recent discussions in the Learning and Development field have suggested that T&D and L&D should in fact be more concentrated on ‘Performance and Development’. It is a view I appreciate because in a work context training should be about improving performance (individual and organisational). It also means, more importantly imho, that training is not seen as outside of wider organisational objectives and agendas.
When we focus on the expected outcome – improved performance being one - we are more likely to choose the right intervention, may save time (away) and it’s often less costly too. I know that suggesting someone reads articles, looks on YouTube, spends time with a colleague or takes on a project is less obvious and may be seen as less prestigious, but it might be what’s really needed.

When offering training and/ development, as well as understanding what it is we’re trying to achieve we should also be mindful of how the ‘offer’ of development will be received.
In some cases, such as with those courses that offer time away from the day-job or those of high value, training is seen as a reward or compensation (eg “I can’t give you a payrise, but I can compensate that by putting you on this expensive course”!). In other cases, it is seen as a punishment - your sent on something whether you want or need to, at a time that's not right for you. In the worst cases, it is seen actually a benefit to the manager rather than their ‘subordinate’ - for example where a manager sends someone on a time management course rather than look at workload, a confidence course instead of offering praise and coaching or where a manager doesn’t tackle poor customer service but sends an employee on a customer service course. That's when training, especially on it’s own, is not enough...
...And that last attitude/approach is one that really grates on me!
Whatever the intervention and whatever the reason for it, one thing is for sure – the value must be measured by more than a ‘happy sheet’ or training/learning/development/performance-passionate people like me aren’t happy!

But more than that, it's not about us. What matters is the learner, the organisation and those it serves. And it's best served by people who are developed not just trained.

There, I’ve said it!
What do you think?
- Does your organisation focus on learning or training?
- Do you look for the right intervention to meet an actual outcome?
- Is 'training' used/seen to be about reward, punishment or a lack of management?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your views,

For more:

  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
  • Follow me at: @DamsonHR (Twitter)
  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD

No comments:

Post a Comment