Why Two-Day Trainings Don’t Work

“So what do you do?” says an Italian relative at one of many family events. “I’m a corporate trainer,” I say while cringing inside. It’s just the easiest thing to say so that people will understand quickly. “So, you show up and do trainings for companies?” “Well…um yes, exactly.”

There’s not much of a point to try to explain that a) I don’t really fancy myself a corporate trainer and b) I almost always discourage being hired for a one or two-day training event.

Am I a training specialist? Yes, I am, but I am also an organizational development professional. This means that I try to solve organizational problems in whatever way I can, and training isn’t always the answer.

So your managers aren’t great communicators, or turnover is high, or your performance management process is broken. Internal communications are laden with conflict or sales are plummeting. Throwing money at training may seem like a fast fix. It’s a Band-Aid.

Solving organizational problems means dealing with complex human beings, in even more complex groups and teams, within a distinct culture.

 

These individuals have personalities, as do the groups or teams themselves.  Sometimes the culture itself has such a strong personality, it can be hard to penetrate.

When a person is searching for a long-term sustainable solution for a challenge like repairing a relationship or losing 20 lbs., they certainly aren’t going to magically get whatever they need by attending a 1 or 2-day training on it. Sure, you may get some “aha” moments. But that is about as effective as scrolling through inspirational quotes on social media and expecting sweeping positive change to come and take over your life.  Lasting positive change takes time, introduction of new behaviors, coaching, accountability, support and repetition of successful choices to overcome challenges.

It is the same for organizations. Two days of training just isn’t going to cut it.

If someone tried to sell you two days of their expertise with no follow up, customization, or deep understanding of your organization’s needs, culture and population – RUN don’t walk. I don’t care how pretty the materials are or where the person has been published.  If their offering doesn’t include a train-the-trainer component, some sort of co-created discovery, partnering with you to sustain the change and embed new ideas and practices into the culture, I implore you to think twice.

You are probably thinking, well doesn’t that cost more? Sometimes, it does, sometimes it doesn’t. However it costs a lot LESS in the long run than burning the money you just paid for two days and getting no result OR maintaining the status quo.

This goes for sending people to conferences and trainings as well. Conferences are great for networking, but if a person needs professional development, that $3000 expense including travel is better invested in 1-1 executive coaching.

Of course there are SOME exceptions to this position on training such as required safety, policy or software training.

Lasting organizational change, like personal change, requires support, interaction, coaching and consulting, It requires a long-term commitment to building better teams, leaders, brands, and a culture that keeps people invested, engaged, happy AND productive.  It also takes an internal coalition of people who are BOUGHT IN to a new way of doing things so that everyone wins.

Yes, that is a tall order. Do I believe it is possible? YES, I do.

The more important question is: DO YOU?