Training Without Change is a Waste of Time and Money

This is a headline from and not your standard, run-of-the-mill business blog. Michele Hiscock is the deputy director of nursing at Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust, so she oversees a lot of training initiatives and the like.

I can really see where she is coming from here. If I had a pound for every single training day that staff were put on during my 12 years in banking I would have retired a much richer man than I am.

Training serves a vital purpose in any organisation, however all too often people are sent off on training days to learn new skills, to learn to “think outside the box”, to go on blue sky thinking days, to learn about “Thinking Hats” and habits of highly effective people, only to return to their office with absolutely no control over making real changes in the workplace.

All too often managers send staff off on training days because they read in some management guide that it is the in thing.

“Thinking Hats” and “7 Habits” courses

OK, they will attempt to explain their reasoning better than that, but in all honesty, corporations run “Thinking Hats” and “7 Habits” courses because it is trendy to do so. Usually specialise training companies run the courses and charge extortionate fees – mad considering that the courses are based on books that often cost less than a tenner.

So many times during my banking career I was sent off for a day to write stuff on flip charts with a group of other people. So many times I asked after the courses what became of the flip charts, or the ideas and of the people…. but never any reply.

Management at best seemed bemused by my interest in what happened on the courses. Directors would want us to all go on a training day but the managers wanted everything to carry on in precisely the way that they want it – and that means no green, blue or red hats thanks very much.

The same must have been true for the nursing profession in the past, and maybe it is still true today. The fact that Michele Hiscock has raised this as a serious issue on her blog on would indicate that this is, or was, so.

So, what about our industry? What about web development, search engine optimisation, search marketing and copywriting? How many times have you undertook some training and not used it? I have always been very careful to avoid training – I am too much of a sceptical and also a bit too careful with my training fund at times!

But people have told me to learn PHP programing, to go on SEO courses and to enrol on other web development courses such as Dreamweaver, to learn Photoshop “properly”, to learn more about journalistic writing, to learn about branding and product development.

I am happy to say that with the exception of doing about half of Google Adwords course, I have done no formal training. Why? Well, by the time I recognise a need, I generally quickly learn enough from reading up on it on the Internet to either accomplish what I need or I find someone that I can ask who then provides an answer.

Is this lazy? No. Everything I learn I use in my work. I never train without thinking first, and then during, how I am going to implement what I am learning into my everyday work.

As soon as I recognise that one avenue of learning (I prefer learning to training) is not going to allow me to accomplish my end goal, to make real changes that will increase profits or efficiencies, then I quit. T

his is what happened on the Google Adwords training. Halfway through I determined that it was not going to benefit me any more and that I would be better spending the 2nd half of the day working rather than learning.

Why can’t corporations work like this? Every year thousands of people are sent off on training courses only to sit about the office ranting on about how pointless it was before going about their jobs in the same old way.

And when they do suggest change is required, managers send them off on a project to do something completely different, mistaking their interest in enhancing procedures here to wanting to change things elsewhere (or just not wanting people that think in their office).

Hmmmm, maybe time to set up a new digital media training program…….

Or, just do something with some of the stuff I have learned ….

One Comment on “Training Without Change is a Waste of Time and Money”

  1. I used to teach in Canada. Schools get several so called professional development days a year. They are usually scheduled on a Friday which equals a long weekend and in many cases there was nothing much in the way of professional development going on. Some departments would have a department meeting that maybe lasted 1/2 a day and then they would slope off. On one occasion because I constantly moaned about the scam that these Pro.D. days were I was put in charge of organizing something for the whole staff. I set up a course for everyone on CPR as many staff didn’t have any training and others needed a refresher. Needless to say it was about the best Pro.D. day any of the teachers had been to. They actually learned something new and useful.

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