4 Issues with Traditional Training

Training today doesn’t look like it did years ago. The tools, technology, and research help us to deliver better, more engaging development experiences.

Today we’re going to take a look at four critical weaknesses of traditional training programs. You might recognize some of your own organization’s training practices, so take some time to consider if you’re getting the most bang for your training bucks.

  1. Lack of flexibility-You get a course syllabus and an expectation to keep up with the instructor at all times, no matter what else you have going on in your life. Good luck not falling behind.
  2. Geographic access issues-If you’re not near the corporate headquarters, you might not even receive any formal training. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll send you the PowerPoint slides.
  3. Uniform training for diverse needs. Who cares if you don’t have the same responsibilities, interests, and desires as others in your job category? We’re assigning you the same training as everyone else.
  4. Cost prohibitive-First you buy the materials. Then you hire the trainer. Then you pay your people for the time they are training but not working productively. Then you measure and determine that the training didn’t even solve the problem. Sigh.

I think we all agree–there’s nothing in that list that’s too surprising for us, but let’s think about it from a leadership perspective. The trend today is to look at these areas not as weaknesses, but as a list of opportunities. Let’s flip these four items into some of the best practices we’re seeing around social learning and development.

  1. Student driven: replace rigid training structures with self-paced programs that allow students to go as fast (or slow) as needed in order to garner the most knowledge from the training.
  2. Anywhere, anytime learning: offer online and/or mobile training opportunities to staff in diverse geographic regions. Bonus tip: allow download of training materials for staff in areas with spotty internet access.
  3. Menu options: allow employees to have a more selective approach to training. If they have required courses to take, also offer some additional elective, relevant training opportunities for the staff to target areas of interest.
  4. Cost effective: allowing students to pursue self-paced, online, and self-directed training opportunities has the added benefit of reducing overall costs compared to traditional methods.

The bottom line? People want a say in what opportunities they have, when the training is available, and how they want to learn. Gone are the days of mandatory training sessions and sitting in a classroom listening to a speaker drone on and on for hours on end. Employees want to take ownership in their training opportunities, and this is an easy way to make that leap. The more ownership people feel about the decisions they have to make, the more engaged they will be throughout the training process. That, my friends, is social learning at its best.

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Today’s post is from guest blogger Ben Eubanks.

Ben is a speaker, author, and HR professional from Huntsville, AL. During the day he works as an Analyst for Brandon Hall Group, a HCM research and advisory services firm that provides insights around key performance areas, including Learning and Development, Talent Management, and Talent Acquisition. During the evening, he writes at upstartHR, an HR blog focusing on leadership, passion, and culture.


One thought on “4 Issues with Traditional Training

  1. Excellent post, Ben, and I appreciate the perspective. As a trainer, I know I have to change my model, I know I have to be more flexible, I know I have to embrace technology, etc. to ensure I don’t become a dying breed. The good news is, there are “in person” people like me that understand it’s our issue…our responsibility to change and adapt. There are still “off the shelf” trainers or “proctors” of outdated/stale/irrelevant course materials out there and certainly they are NOT NOT NOT worth the investment you speak of in your post…shoot, they weren’t worth it in the first place. But there are some trainers who make sure we meet the client “where they are” and do what is best for their learning objectives…which makes the investment well worth it. 🙂

    I think we all need to figure out the healthy compromise…allowing personable, learning objective/client need specific training at the right time, in the right place and with the right medium. Then, everyone wins! 🙂

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