Identifying Training Disconnects & What to Do About Them

Senior And Junior Engineers Discussing Work Together In OfficeTraining disconnects are a slow burn on your organizational resources. It’s one of those things that everyone in your company knows is just ‘off,’ but no one knows what to do about them to create anything better, so they languish, with rudimentary tweaks here and there.

The training you have in place work after all, they’re getting the job done. Or are they? Most disconnected training lands squarely in two categories – neither worth holding on to:

Boring and basic. This is the training that pops up on employee calendars and you can hear the collective groan. “Time for the monthly XYZ refresher,” they say wearily, trudging off to the training room to complete it. It’s rote, boring and doesn’t advance their understanding or the work they’re doing. It doesn’t account for variables and results in very little knowledge acquisition, if any. It’s either a computer-based training or led by an in-person trainer who is often equally bored with the material, and skips through things as “we all know it anyway, right?” It’s an ineffective checkbox activity that creates topics to commiserate over the virtual water cooler, but not much else.

Expensive and awkward. This training is the elephant in the room. They are a bit like the boring and basic training, but they often include trips to training sites and other expensive perks that are unnecessary and make the recipients feel awkward because they know the result does not justify the cost. This type of training is more difficult to do away with because they’re also viewed as networking events, and there’s certainly value in that – but shifting the focus from training to team-building would do everyone a world of good. Because although the expensive training may sound fun, awkwardness aside, they won’t help you keep employees.

Once that vacation glow wears off and s/he is back to the task at hand and struggling, you can be sure they’ll either feel awful about their capabilities, wondering if they’re not smart enough to master the task(s), and worrying they’ll be found out for it, or just frustrated over being asked to do the ‘stupid/pointless thing’ to begin with. None of those things lead to good employee morale. And when employees aren’t happy, they look for new jobs.

“One of the most significant factors in employee happiness and retention, is the time you invest in training your employees. Here’s one telling statistic: nearly 40% of employees who received inadequate job training leave within six months of starting.” So it’s important to offer training, yes – but equally important to provide adequate training (doing it well).

What to do?
So what should you do about this disconnect? Start by asking employees what they think. At the end of each training, pinpoint where your training is missing the mark:

  • Did you learn anything new from this training?
  • If so, what did you learn?
  • Was this training a valuable use of your time?
  • Why or why not?
  • What would you like to learn, as it relates to your position?
  • What would you like to learn, as it relates to any other positions within the company?
  • What is the most challenging part of your day?
  • What is the most challenging part of your job?
  • What would improve each scenario?

You’ll notice patterns in their answers. Pay attention to those. And you’ll also want to create an in-person task force to review these survey answers and make recommendations for radical change. You want to be sure to avoid falling in to the “tweak our existing training” trap, as it’s an easy rut to run along forever – and many companies do . . . just not the ones we’ll see around in ten years.

Instead, use this Pareto Principle to zero in on where to start with the training transformation.

Watch for our next post on how to implement a pilot training program, as you’ll be wanting this information soon enough!