As an instructional design consultant, I should be unequivocally pro-training, right? After all, the more training my clients offer their workforce, the better the chances are that they’ll hire me to develop said training. But, honestly, training isn’t always the right solution in every situation.
Here are five situations in which you should just say no to training.
1) Training isn’t linked to a specific business goal. The purpose of training isn’t simply to educate employees. Rather the purpose of training is to educate employees so that they have the knowledge and skills to execute specific actions to achieve business goals. Achieving a business goal allows a company to realize a return on its investment in training. No goal equals no ROI. If a company realizes zero ROI on enough of its investments often enough, that company will cease to exist. So, if training isn’t linked to a business goal, just say no.
2) There is no best practice. A best practice is an established way of doing something that consistently gets desired results. Best practices are the bread and butter of training. If you aren’t teaching learners a best practice, what are you teaching them? The wrong way, perhaps? And, no, best practices aren’t invented around a conference room table. They evolve and, are tested and proven in the field. So if there is no best practice, just say no.
3) Systems block performance. In the words of famed quality expert W. Edwards Deming, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” Substitute the word trained for good in that sentence, and you can see how futile training can be if systems aren’t aligned. Better to just say no to training until those systems are fixed than to waste time and effort developing training that doesn’t work.
4) It makes more sense to redesign the job. This is a true story. One of our clients discovered during a needs assessment that their sales team was using PowerPoint to create ad hoc marketing collateral to leave behind with prospects. They weren’t very good at it. And, it was taking time away from calling on prospects and following up with clients. Would you provide graphic design training or redesign the job in this situation? Our client decided that it made more sense to redesign the job by shifting this responsibility elsewhere. This allowed the sales team to focus on higher value activities. Our client just said no to graphic design training.
5) It makes more sense to change the recruiting strategy. This is another true story. One of our clients was recruiting representatives who had any type of customer service experience into their fledgling call center. Any type of customer service experience could and did include such unrelated jobs as hostessing at a restaurant. Our client quickly realized that they would have to invest in a staggering amount of training to get these new customer service representatives up to speed. Not only did the job require using a complex computer system, but it also involved a strong math component. Our client switched their recruiting strategy to focus on candidates who had either call center or financial services industry experience, preferably both. Our client just said no to the massive amounts of training that would be required to get less qualified candidates up to speed.