• Ian Gibbs

3 Ways to Avoid The Emperor’s Training Day



We learn by doing something new... and then practising it, often.


There’s a lot more detail that can be added, but essentially if we want to get better at something, then REGULAR PRACTICE, is the only way to go.


Yet for some companies, a one-day training event is considered sufficient ‘practising’ for attendees to learn.


It’s an EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES situation. The attendees know that a one-day training session doesn’t work. The trainers know that a one-day training session doesn’t work. Even the HR department knows that a one-day training session doesn’t work.


But still everyone does it because it fulfils 3 requisites:

1: It satisfies company policy that 'training' is being done

2: It only stops attendees getting on with ‘real’ work for just one day

3: By offering a convenient ‘easy-to-swallow’ product, trainers sell their product.


So everyone pretends attendees are learning something, even though every book ever written on skill acquisition points out that a person needs to REPEAT a new behaviour many times (preferably with immediate feedback) in order to integrate the new skill into their natural behaviour, otherwise, human behaviour dictates that things will inevitably slip back to where they were originally.


Let’s be honest. What have you done today that you’ve done better as a DIRECT RESULT of a one-day training?


What’s the solution?


A person learns more by regular, short sessions than just one long one.


Of course, the logistics of this, for both the attendees and trainer, is difficult.


But unless some form of continuity is built into the training process, its success rate will be frustratingly limited.


There are 3 ways do achieve this:


1: The Trainer

Either divide a single training day into multiple sessions. This allows attendees during the second session to give feedback to the trainer who then can steer the things accordingly, focussing on the challenges experienced.


If this isn’t feasible, at least make sure the trainer does some sort of follow up with attendees online, or getting attendees to write an evaluation of the challenges to their progress to which the trainer can then give advice.


2: In-company Follow Up

If the trainer isn’t available, someone from within the company takes over and keeps track of how the attendees are progressing. Getting attendees together to discuss achievements and progress encourages focus on the desired objectives of the training.


3: If the two previous points don’t wash, then the final option is for the attendees to do something themselves. If you’ve been to a training session that has inspired you, team up with a few of the other trainees and share your ideas, experiences, frustrations and successes. This is why some companies have Learning Clubs. It encourages people to do this regularly.


By making the effort to maintain some sort of continuity, focus and feedback, pressure to keep practising is maintained and allows attendees to get more out of their trainings which improves morale and demonstrates that the company is taking training seriously.


If you’re HR department is doing something similar, congratulations! You’re on the right path.

If not... well, I hope you’re happy spending training budget on more new clothes for the Emperor.


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