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Top 10 Training Pitfalls

A group of engaged and attentive participants actively engaged in an interactive training session, representing effective training design and delivery.

If you have been in training for a while, you know that sometimes people think training is the silver bullet that will cure everything. As a learning and development professional, I have been asked to create trainings anywhere from leadership and professionalism to how to take notes in a meeting. However, in order for training to be effective, it must be structured correctly.

Below are the top 10 training pitfalls I have seen in organizations over the years:

  1. One-Stop Shop – giving individuals training once on a subject and expecting them to remember everything. The training happens once and no backup materials or other resources are offered.

  2. Training only One Level of Supervisors – sometimes I will get called into an organization and they will only want the front-level supervisors trained. For training to be effective and influence culture, training needs to be done at all levels of leadership.

  3. All Lecture – No Practice – it isn’t enough just to tell people what to do. Great trainings are interactive and allow individuals a safe space to practice what is being taught.

  4. Information Overload – in order to be efficient, sometimes companies will try to cram as much as they can into the amount of time that is allotted. This can leave participants confused on what is truly important to take away from the training. It is better to stick with one to three consistent topics and go deep into them.

  5. No Repeats - Repetition is necessary for memory retention, even though we feel we have said something multiple times, if it is a new concept, individuals need to hear it multiple times.

  6. All Job Skills No People Skills – everyone needs specific skills to be great at their position. However, especially the further and individual goes up on the organization chart, the more training in interpersonal skills such as psychological safety, communication, emotional intelligence and teamwork are needed.

  7. No Succession Planning Training – sometimes current leaders feel threatened in their position as newer leaders start to rise. This is the opposite of what great leaders and fantastic organizations do. Organizations that are successful have identified leaders at each level and work train and succession plan with each key position.

  8. One Medium – sticking with just one style of training – especially lecture or video can bore participants. Allowing discussion, role-playing, activities, teach-backs, playing games etc., will not only keep participants engaged it will cover different styles of preferred learning.

  9. Training Individual Contributors without Leadership Support – sometimes supervisors will send individuals to training and not think they need to be involved. In order for training to stick, leadership need to fully support the training, and have follow-up conversations with those they supervise after the training. The best organizations I’ve worked with have had leadership go through a version of the training and given them resources such as a question guide to easily facilitate follow-up questions.

  10. No Food/Bad Venue – let’s face it – it is not only the training material that matters for the participant experience. If you are having a training that goes for two hours – have snacks, candy and provide water and other beverages. If you are going for three hours or more – have all of the above – plus a meal. And not those cheap sandwiches either – I’ve read enough training surveys to know people really do judge a training on the food! In addition, make sure the venue where the training is being held is conducive to learning. A distracting or uncomfortable environment can take away from participants learning.

Reflection Question: What training pitfalls do I currently see in my organization and how would I correct them?

Next Topic: Psychological Safety

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