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Your corporate training program likely sucks

Corporate training

Want to spend a second or two on corporate training.

Here’s what I’ve got to begin: most research on “the best places to work” shows that consistently well-regarded organizations tend to train or develop their people more. This makes sense. People want to be trained. It’s a complex business world out there these days. For example, if you can’t code an app or a robot, will you have a job in 25 years? Almost no one knows the answer to that question. But we all either (a) pretend we do or (b) bury our heads in the sand about it.

As we’ve gotten more and more leadership/management platforms, the role of a boss in developing an employee’s career goals has become murky. Most bosses hide from their employees. “I left the feedback in the platform! I’m too busy preparing for this trade show!” As this dynamic has gotten murky, we need more legitimate corporate training. We need better management training. These things almost have to happen because most research these days is showing that people absolutely hate their boss, even if they love their job.

Problem: a lot of managerial development is rooted in 1911 methodology, and on average there are 12 years between a person becoming a manager and a person getting trained on how to be a manager.

And now we come back to corporate training.

The first problem with corporate training

It’s owned by HR. No one cares about HR. Let me explain this as cleanly as possible. Any corporate executive, on his/her deathbed, will have moments they recall. Big deals! We slayed the competition! When they recall those moments, was HR in the room? Absolutely not. The way most executives view HR is compliance, cover your ass projects, and (amazingly) hiring. I could live 88 lifetimes and still not understand this. Hiring is your biggest expense. Execs are often cost-averse. And yet, they kick that biggest expense to a department they could give a fuck about while they fret over their “product road maps.” Ha.

So that’s the first problem: corporate training resides in a department executives barely bat an eyelash about.

The cost side of corporate training

It costs somewhere between $700-$1,200 per employee. Do that math. From that same linked article:

Here’s the thing: No matter how intensive your company’s training program might be, it’s just not equipped to help your employees change their habits in and outside the office. Maybe you have a seminar geared toward “team building” or “communication,” and that’s great. But it’ll never be enough to adjust the ways somebody thinks about and approaches their career—the assumptions and behaviors that inevitably condition how they go about their jobs, day in and day out.

Here’s the second issue!

The second issue of corporate training

It’s really hard to develop people internally. This is ironic and shouldn’t necessarily happen, but the problem with internal development is that work has so much politics, BS, changed relationships, etc. that it just gets hard. Plus, HR is an office cop at many organizations. How can the office cop department also train/develop the people? The people will be inherently nervous about the relationship because, well, these guys/girls can fire you too.




 

Bottom line here: we want work to be logical. That’s why we choke everything in process, including often unnecessary process. But work is emotional. It’s made up of people (for now). What else is it gonna be?

How can we make corporate training better?

We got some plays here. Let’s run through ’em.

Move it from HR: You could create an in-house position focused on “career conversations,” or just outsource this deal consistently to avoid the politics problem.

Scrap what you believe you know and re-learn: because it’s probably all bullshit anyway.

Train teams together: If you want people to work in teams, the teams need to train/develop together. That’s how the military does it.

Train around a simple question: “When’s the last time you did something new?” That would imply you are developing a culture of learning, growth, and legit development.

Care: Most things begin here. If you only care about products and processes and people are consistently an afterthought, I wouldn’t bother even developing a corporate training program. Where could it possibly go?

Embrace the knowledge economy: … and allow people opportunities to share knowledge. That’s how Trello does it.

Less about slide decks and more about humans connecting with each other: Tap into the power of gratitude or friends at work.

What else would you say about corporate training?

We spend money on this stuff. We’ve all sat in these things and been like “Good f’n God, why am I even here?” So this is some real stuff we all encounter every year, and it’s often horribly ineffective. Anything you’d add on how to make corporate training better?

Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. 1. Most training fails because people don’t want to really change something about themselves or their work.
    2. It needs to be experiential. No one really knows a thing until they actually experience it.
    3. Training needs a Coaching component. Measured results go through the roof when experiential training is coupled with Coaching. It falls through the basement when it’s transactional and classroom based.

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