I love traveling for my work. I especially enjoy sitting in the hotel bar and overhearing people talk about training. Specifically the “training events” that an organization will fly people in from all over to experience.
It’s not surprising to find that people’s perception of training varies greatly.
Example: Recently in New Jersey, I was minding my own business (well sort-of) enjoying a nice glass of sangria at the bar. My ears picked up while listening to a group of sales people “discuss” their training session.
“I hate we have to waste our time with these classes.”
“All they do is talk about pointless topics, and when they do talk about stuff we need to know – they rush through it.”
“I feel like they are measuring the wrong stuff. Who cares if I pass their stupid test.”
“I wish I could be honest on the survey, but if they find out I’m the one who said something – then training hunts me down.”
“We know there’s a problem with generating sales, but no one seems interested in really helping us. This isn’t helping.”
“I can’t believe they spent a boatload of money on this.”
That was a lot of sad talk about training that made me want to run up and give them all my business card.
The truly heartbreaking part of this? There may be some training person in that company thinking they rocked it. Or maybe they know they didn’t rock it and didn’t care…I’d much rather think the former than the later. Houston we have a problem.
A Perception Issue
Most likely it is a perception issue. Depending on the research you read it takes anywhere from 7 seconds to 30 seconds for people to form an opinion of you. In other words, you don’t get a lot of chances to fix the first impression. This especially applies to training programs. Training thinks they are knocking it out of the park on the other hand employees are thinking that no one cares about solving their real problem. News flash – What the people think, is what matters. If employees feel the training not helpful, it’s not and by extension, you’re not being especially helpful either.
Let’s be blunt. Training doesn’t have a hope in hell of being successful if the employees do not trust us to do the right thing. If the perception is that training is all about ticking boxes and producing deathly boring and inconsequential programs. Well, then…The perception from the people in my above example was that training is not the advocate it should be. Training should be for the people, by the people. How does this sad perception of training happen in the first place? I can hazard an educated guess based on my years of experience.
- Developing training by way of using “The Force”. We use instincts rather than root cause analysis to develop programs.
- Thinking in terms of “we” rather than “they”. Training starts and ends with the humans we support. Many developers think first about ease of creation rather than developing a program that truly solves a problem. Box ticked. Participants sad. Problem not solved.
- By not fighting harder to save people from pointless training in the first place. I simply don’t think it’s good enough to say “we couldn’t” or “they wouldn’t let us”. There are too many tools to help trainers produce results that matter and ya know what – sometimes that means not creating a training program at all. It’s a job aid, a video, an infographic, a podcast. Could it be a microlearning object? Anything but another “sage on the stage” training program.
What are your people saying about your training department? It doesn’t matter if you think you are rocking it. What matters is the perception of training to the organization. Does the organization think you are rocking it? Do they perceive you, the L&D professional; to be a partner, a problem solver, interested in creating real solutions for pain points?
Do they think of the Training Department as “PowerPoint creators”, the department that plays silly games, the place to go for boring safety training, the department that spends our money?
Time to ask yourself some tough questions:
What is your department perception? What are people saying about you and the department right now?
Does your position add value?
Are you actively looking for information and resources that help you improve? Do you actively try to upskill?
Do you challenge yourself to do better, learn more about your job, your business, and the training industry? Or is good, good enough?
Do you take steps to learn about new ways to create areas of knowledge sharing for the humans around you?
Are you actively encouraging other departments to collaborate? Or are you in a silo?
When was the last time you conducted a focus group with the people in your organization to determine if your programs are helping or wasting time?
It’s all about perception.
Does the organization see you as being a valued business partner?
Would the business miss you if you were gone?
“There is no truth. There is only perception.” Gustave Flaubert
Share! How are you managing perceptions of training in your organization?
Part of adjusting your Training Departments perception can begin with a proper level one evaluation. Are people getting the knowledge they expected? Did the learning connect in a meaningful way? Would they participate in your program again? All important questions. According to Will Thalheimer, it’s time to rethink the smile sheet and of course, Learning Rebels agrees. Enter now to win his book, “Performance-Based Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Art Form”.