Is training a waste of money?


Imagine walking into a book shop (a bit easier than imagining all the books on Amazon) and seeing all those books: millions of words all designed to entertain, inform and educate you.

You can buy a book for a few pounds and read it in a few hours without fully recognising that it may represent many years of research and experimentation carried out by the author.  All that information concentrated and made available to you for a tiny investment in time and money. What a trip!

So I reckon the real question has to be why doesn’t everybody buy books, read them and become an expert – easy! We could all be masters of our corporate universe: no wasted time, totally effective, awesomely creative, killer delegators – the list can go on. But it won’t because that’s not what happens, is it?

No; buy a book, go on a course, subscribe to an e-learning programme and yet the actual amount of change in your behaviour is miniscule. Same goes for team members you send on courses – all that investment giving a tiny sustainable improvement. In fact according to Xerox, who conducted a worldwide study of their training effectiveness, only 18% of their training budget actually resulted in any change. What a king-sized drag.

So why is that and what can you do about it?

There are several reasons for this but here are the two main ones: –

  1. Time – change takes time and you have to build this time into your schedule.  I have no researched figures on this but I would suggest you reserve an hour or two per week for 6 weeks for every day on a course or for 4 weeks for every book you read.
  2. Timing – is crucial for change. If somebody isn’t ready they won’t change – simple as. This applies for you too. Look for what they call a “seminal event” that is an external reason for people to kick themselves into gear. Such things as a change in personal circumstances, threats to the lifestyle or employment status or problems that have not been encountered before.

So what to do? Firstly look for the seminal event that will push any change agenda through whether this is for a member of your team or for yourself. Secondly ensure you schedule some transition time to enable that person to experiment and adjust to the new material.

Einstein said that the definition of madness was doing the same thing over and over again in the same way but expecting a different outcome each time.

Is training a waste of money? No of course it isn’t but if you want to get more change bangs for your training bucks listen to Einstein and implement the new material in a different way: pick your time  then find some time.

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Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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