Learning & Development

Training Is Not a Silver Bullet

We talk a lot about the importance of training, and it certainly is important; however, we thought it would be appropriate to address a common pitfall many organizations encounter when it comes to employee development and organizational change: adhering to the misconception that training is a silver bullet to solve company ills.


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Make Sure that Training Matters

Training can certainly solve many organizational problems and improve performance generally, but companies often throw money at a problem by implementing a training program even though they don’t truly understand the problem’s root cause—and we’re talking about a lot of money. From 2016 to 2017, U.S. companies’ spending on training rose by 32.5% to $90.6 billion.

Training is a good solution primarily when there are concrete skills that need to be developed, according to Ron Carucci.

“Training can be a powerful medium when there is proof that the root cause of the learning need is an undeveloped skill or a knowledge deficit,” Carucci says. “For those situations, a well-designed program with customized content, relevant case material, skill building practice, and a final measurement of skill acquisition, works great.”

Training Won’t Tackle Structural Problems

By contrast, many companies erroneously spend money on training even though the true problems are more structural. These problems could include inefficient or ineffective processes, a company culture that’s not aligned with corporate goals, or a poor organizational design.

These problems need to be addressed from the top down by working with company executives rather than training frontline employees and mid-level managers.

The moral of the story here is that although employee training and development efforts can and should play a key role in any organization, these efforts should be utilized when there is a need to impart specific skills or information on employees. When there are fundamental challenges and weaknesses, training alone will likely be ineffective.