Why Training Does Not Work

For years, I have seen it happen time and time again.  Frustrated managers send their people to a seminar, so the instructor can “fix them” and send them back.  Time and time again…training does not work.

Re-read the bold statement above and give yourself a minute to digest it.  Go ahead.  Think seriously about what it says. Is it sinking in?

Imagine for a minute you and I are having a conversation immediately following your acceptance (enlightenment) of the above statement.

YOU:  “Wait a minute, Cooksey, you work with financial executives to improve their measurable performance, right?”

ME:  “Absolutely!”

YOU: “So, you’re telling me that if I hire you to train my people, it won’t work?”

ME: “Absolutely!”

YOU: “And you are talking me out of my desire to have you work with my people?”

ME: “No.”

YOU:  **Puzzled look**

ME: “If you want to call it “training”, and send them in to passively listen, somehow hoping it will magically ‘fix them’ while you keep doing what you have always done, I will suggest you are better off throwing your cash off of the top of your building as you shout about how you are spreading the wealth. ”

YOU: “So, how will you fix the problem I have with my team?”

ME:  “I won’t.”

YOU: “Well, if I have to do all the work, why should I hire you?”

ME: “Bingo!”

To be fair, training DOES have a place; albeit, a small one.  If a person desires a new skill, often times a workshop or classroom experience is effective in demonstrating the basics.  To truly master that skill, however, one must invest time and effort to gain the desired result.  There is simply no substitute for practice.

For the manager who sends an employee (in frustration) to a seminar without a willingness or desire to help truly develop said skills back in the office, I’m afraid both parties are being set up for disappointment. In this all-to-common situation, training does not work.

Perhaps most effective, however, is when someone self-selects which training they wish to receive, and challenges themself to use those newly acquired skills to increase their success at work.  During my years as a bank-based investment adviser, I often selected to attend my broker-dealer’s annual meeting in a different geographic region than the one I worked.  I found that my colleagues focused on building practices in places far from my own hometown were MUCH more open to sharing ideas, techniques and tools they used to build their practices.

Also, each year, I would work in a trip to Chicago for the Morningstar Advisers Conference in July.  While the trip itself was expensive, what I gained in ideas to share with my clients (and grow their wealth) was well worth it.  In addition, I found my ideas were truly unique and set me apart from nearly every other bank-based broker in my area – something which contributed greatly to my successful turn-around of the practice I inherited.

Seek out ways to be different, and remember:  If you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had.  Find a mentor (someone with several years of proven success in your same line of work), constantly read to increase your industry knowledge, and consider investing some of your own money to work with professional who understands your business and will challenge you to try new things to grow your practice.   It will pay off much more than just another basic “training seminar” you received a flyer about in the mail.

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3 Replies to “Why Training Does Not Work”

  1. Scott … I agree wholeheartedly! I have had similar conversations with my clients …. I also tell them to light a fire to their money – they will have more enjoyment watching it burn than frustration with their staff. People have to have a desire (translation = what’s it in for me?) to change their behaviors. Without that — well you and I will continue to have your opening conversations.

  2. Thanks, Shari, for weighing in on this one. You will likely agree the best managers you know are those who get it and regularly train the very teams other people admire yet never seem to build. So simple! Well…let’s both keep getting the word out. Busineses will AALWAYS need great people!

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