Training is Not Always The Answer

Here’s the secret that education and training providers may not want you know: Training is not always the answer to gaps in performance. I say again, training is not a panacea.

One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to training is to think that it can solve all business issues. That is far from the truth.

A performance gap is not necessarily a training issue and therefore, may not require a training intervention.

Sure, you can argue that more training wouldn’t hurt. But, implementing a training intervention without understanding whether it would have an impact might be a waste of time and money.

Identifying performance gaps

There are many factors that can lead to a performance gap, but we’re jumping the gun here. We should first identify the tasks that employees need to complete as part of the job, the competencies necessary to complete those tasks and the standards they need to attain.

With this standard, you can then identify if there really is a gap to begin with and if there is one, you can target a specific gap. It’s only after actual performance is compared to the standard and the gaps properly identified, that you can begin looking at interventions.

Non-training interventions

But even when a performance gap has been identified, care must be taken to determine if the gap was due to a lack of knowledge and skills.

Many other factors can lead to performance gaps. Some examples are:

  •       Environmental factors
  •       Poorly designed processes or jobs
  •       Shortage of money or manpower
  •       Lack of motivation

Let me elaborate using environmental factors as an example. Say you’re running a factory, having the Finance and HR departments situated on the factory floor next to the heavy machinery and loud noises is not only dangerous, it can reduce their productivity.

But sending staff in these departments to personal effectiveness or productivity courses will have a smaller effect than simply putting them in a more conducive work environment.

Here’s another example with regards to a lack of motivation. A company who finds a lack of innovative ideas from employees might think they need to send employees for design thinking and innovation workshops.

But if employees in this scenario are penalized heavily for making mistakes, it’s impossible to have an innovative culture. Similarly, if being able to perform a skill is not rewarded or if being able to do so is of no consequence, it is unlikely that employees will be going out of their way to do extra work.

Long story short, training isn’t always the answer.

Training interventions should only be utilized when the performance gap is due to a lack of knowledge or skill deficiencies.

I have created a flow chart based on Mager and Pipe’s performance analysis model to help you decide the next course of action after a performance gap has been identified. 

To view the flow chart and read more into this topic, check out the FREE white paper titled:

Training is Not Always the Answer

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