When Training is NOT the Answer

There is always an assumption. One of your line managers is standing in your office in the training and development (T&D) department for a meeting that he pleaded for. He has already told you that he’s having lots of trouble with the quality of the work that his teams are producing these days, so he feels that they need to update their training.  Since it’s your job to provide the training, you ask him what kind of training he thinks that they might need. After a long and serious discussion, you have both come to the conclusion that they need “communications” training since there seems to be a lot of confusion and misunderstandings between them.  The line manager leaves your office happy that he has taken a step towards solving a problem that he is getting pressured from upper management to deal with, and you start to look through your training provider contacts for someone who can provide the communications course you think you need.

What if it isn’t a training problem? What if it’s a management problem? Or a moral problem? Or a quality control problem? Or a whatever else problem? Not all performance problems are training problems and if you treat a non-training problem with a training solution, you will be diluting the real problem, wasting your training money and not getting any sustainable results.

How do you know? One of the simplest ways to find out what kind of problem it really is can be through a pre-prepared list of targeted questions for the requesting manager to answer. In this way, you can focus on finding the evidence that the performance problem is a real one that training can solve. You must be convinced. If you are not convinced, then you need to do a problem analysis. Another technique is to use the well-known “5 Whys” tool.

Before you look for a trainer. Once you’re absolutely convinced that it is a problem that can be resolved by training, you really need to carry out a Training Needs Assessment (TNA) to determine, very specifically, what exactly the training needs are so that the right training provider can be selected.