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Training is Useless

not listen

At a BNI business networking session, I met the manager of a Travel Agency.  We exchanged name cards and started to chat…

“Ah, you are from the training industry.  I have provided many training programs for my staff.

In my perception, Training is Useless.” She said.

“Why do you think so?” I asked.


“I want to improve the staff performance and have organized various training programs for them. The staff changed a bit for the first few days after the training. As time passed, the staff behaved same as before. Training is Useless for improving staff performance.” She answered.

The manager’s perception represents the views of some managers and business executives. Yet being a specialist in People Development, I have a different view on this. Let me share with you my views from the People Development’s perspective. Training Effectiveness relates closely to the following:

1.  Is Training the “right medicine to cure ” the problem?

Training has always been used as the medicine for fixing the problem.  However it may not be the “right medicine” for tackling the key concern. Yet Training is being chosen as it is relatively easy to implement and considered to be a more diplomatic approach than changing the company policy, organization structure or even the Management.

2.  Is the Training meeting the customers’ need ?

Who is the customer? Are they the Management who pay for the cost or the target participants who attend the course? The Management and the target participants may have different expectation towards the training.  Those who decide what to cover in the training may not align with the views of the target participants.  The training program would not provide a desirable outcome if the training needs were not common for both parties.

3. Is the trainee ready to learn?

The participants usually do not know why they are sent to attend the training or what is expected from the Management. Some participants think that they do not have difficulty in the training topic. Some of them even think that it is the managers, not them, that need to be trained. Some participants may consider attending training is simply an opportunity for them to stay away from work. If the participants are “not ready or not willing” to receive the training, it will be very difficult for them to apply what they learn to improve their performance.

4. Has the trainer well facilitated the learning?

The role of a trainer is a change agent, a facilitator. He or she has to communicate the messages clearly and to facilitate the participants to learn. If the trainer has the enthusiasm and experience in people development, he or she will be able to arouse the participants’ interest to learn and to get the message across. After all, the attitude, not just the knowledge or skill, of the trainer is the most critical success factor.

Attend Training is only the beginning to learn. For the participants to “internalize” what they learnt or to apply it at work, we need to provide them a supportive environment to learn.

Is the trainee working in a Supportive Learning Environment?  The Management may check that :

  • Is there any opportunity for the trainees to practice what they learnt?
  • Do they allow for making mistakes during the work practice?
  • Is there any coaching or guidance provided throughout the process?
  • Do the trainees receive support or encouragement from the Management when they encounter difficulties or failure?

Practices make Perfect. It is believed that the trainees will be able to master what they learnt after continuously “practice, review, fine tune and practice” for a significant period of time. Expecting participants to “change” in their performance soon after the training is a Wrong expectation.

People Development is a long term process. To ensure the training effectiveness, the trainer, the trainee and the Management have to collaborate to work towards their common goal.


By Maria Leung

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