Training that is designed to fail

The honest truth about training you may not want to know is that..

All training is not equal. There are differences between training in a small business and training in a large corporation. Of course training (under the guise of education) is constantly mucked up by government. But one thing about training is almost universal and it is bad news.

Training becomes the fix-all solution when managers don’t know what else to do.

Don’t get me wrong, training can be very useful – but only if it is done right. Too many HR departments justify their existence by indentifying:

-        need for change

-        performance gaps

-        blind spots

-        weakness

-        sub-optimal performance

-        and blah-de-blah

… and training is the answer.


More often than not you will hear people say – 2 weeks after going on a course – that it was really interesting but they haven’t had the time to implement it.

BEFORE you resort to training, there are a number of things you must fix or have in place for training to have any value and have any chance to succeed.

1. The right strategy

If you don’t have the right strategy, you will not be training for the right skills.

2: The right people (who)

-        have common decency and you would actually like to work with, and

-        are passionate about their jobs

3. The right culture

Give them an opportunity to excel. (And if they don’t, demote them to their previous level of competence and apologise for your poor judgement.) If they are not passionate or nice any longer fire them for lying to you about who they really were.


Good training is built on the strengths of the individuals. ‘Skills improvement’ – specifically soft skills are incredibly hard to train. Unless an individual is personally focused on it and motivated to make those changes themselves it aint gonna happen.

Just like an obese person or an alcoholic must take personal ownership of the status quo and then make a personal commitment to dealing with it – no amount of chalk & talk is going to cure it. And here is a little inside-tip to the HR professionals:

Despite what the delegates ‘say’ in those little breakaway groups, the reality is and will be very different. Nobody is going to make life-affirming, or identity-shattering confessions to a guy he met last night at the bar before the leadership seminar.

I don’t advocate ‘no training’ – but fundamentally, more important than the training is the raw material that you are working with. Recruit well and 90% of your training ‘problems’ go away.

Like the biblical seeds that are sown on the different types of soil, so training success only on the fertile soil and never on the field of weeds where they get strangled by politics and pretence.