Here’s The Top Reason Training Your Employees Doesn’t Work

…plus 6.5 reasons to NOT train your staff

Ah, the ever-present argument about the proper training of your employees…well, you’ll get no argument from me. Training is the key to a well-motivated, knowledgeable and efficient staff. But is THAT all what’s needed, just training?

Training Your Employees

Here are some benefits of training:

  • Training bolsters employee confidence which is then noticed by the customers = perceived better service = more $$$
  • Training can identify areas where revenue is “left on the table” and not captured.
  • A well trained staff allows management to focus on other aspects of the business and not micromanage the staff

Throughout my years in the hospitality industry I’ve sat through more “service culture” and customer service training sessions than I care to remember.

We discussed how to create a memorable experience for the customer (guest), how to empathize, how to diffuse an irate customer and when to offer compensation for poor service. We spoke about the customer’s expectations and how to match and exceed them. Another well-worn topic is employee morale and how important it is and its direct correlation to the service provided. All worthwhile topics.

But, we rarely spoke about the “elephant” in the room…

All the training in the world won’t work if the underlying issues are not resolved & removed. Click To Tweet

I once had a boss tell me, “you need to do more training, then they’ll get better. We’ll just fire those that don’t improve, it’s simple!” Great attitude boss…wonder why service is poor!

Here’s the key statement, to paraphrase my colleague Shaun Belding; 

“Training cannot change behavior. It can transfer knowledge and introduce skills but must be supported by other factors”.

How many training managers or members of Human Resources Departments around the globe understand this? I dare to say, only a few.

Their focus is on a laundry list of training dates embedded on a monthly calendar, which does more to justify the training manager’s position than changing the behavior of the employees.

Here’s the top reason your training doesn’t work; you’re not fixing the root cause of the problem! Click To Tweet

Let’s delve into specifics…

1.      Your Service / Customer Satisfaction Scores Are Poor

Why are they poor? Is it because you don’t schedule enough employees to handle the lunchtime rush or the cashier stations during a busy holiday week? Training won’t help that, only scheduling more “trained employees” will.

2.      You Don’t Get Enough Repeat Business From Existing Customers

Are your customers made to feel appreciated when they come into your business or are they treated as a burden? It’s extremely difficult to train someone to be polite and put others first (your customers). There needs to be an inherent positive personality trait(s) as a basis for great service.

A sour attitude will always show through. Training can’t fix bad attitudes, only a termination can. Click To Tweet

3.      You Don’t Walk-the-Walk

You recently held a series of, and what you believed were, great training classes. They were interactive, well attended and informative. But you haven’t seen an improvement in the employee’s actions and they “refuse” to put into effect what was trained. Why is this happening?

Well, did your senior management take part in the classes, sitting alongside the hourly employees? Oh, the training was just for non-management. I see…

If your hourly employees “don’t see” management taking the same classes they may believe that management doesn’t take training as seriously as THEY are expected to. So why should they bother? What’s left is wasted effort on everyone’s part.

4.      No Tools To Do The Job

Great training can fix many ills but without the tools, equipment and supplies, etc. don’t expect much. Your employees will throw their hands up in exasperation when little changes after the latest rah rah training session.

Couldn’t you have seen this coming? What did you do differently to properly support your employees this time? Oh, you just did a training, well, that’s not enough!

5.      Bad Trainers

Just because someone has years of experience doing a specific job doesn’t mean he/she is a good trainer and can pass along the needed information in an easy-to-understand and relate-able manner.

Bad trainers are as easy to find as bad employees. Click To Tweet

6.      Production is Still Down

Do you schedule your best workers on the “most important” or busiest days? If not, you should expect poor service and lackluster performance.

“But Steve”, you may say, “we have to follow seniority when we make the schedule, and some of my worst performers have the most seniority!”

Well, you have a problem my friend. Maybe you should stop the training for a while and focus more on replacing your poor performers.

6.5  You Have the Wrong Employees

The old adage; “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink” is true in more ways than you think.

Some employees, just like some friends or family, refuse to change. They rebel against any form of change. It goes against their very core.

You may not feel the same; you may not understand how this can be but you must.

There needs to be a systematic and company-wide effort for any real change and improvements to happen because of training. What are the employee incentives to put this training into effect?

Will it be:

  • Improved working conditions for the employees?
  • More money or commission for the employees?
  • Morale boosters that actually work?
  • An opportunity for advancement?

If not, your training may not produce the outcome you expect. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Copyright © 2018 Steve DiGioia

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9 thoughts on “Here’s The Top Reason Training Your Employees Doesn’t Work

  1. I came here via LinkedIn. I was all set to read another reasonable but superficial piece about what was wrong with training and “tricks”/keys to fixing it. Imagine my delight at reading this. Some of the things advocated here are what led to my being dismissed from a contract about 20 years ago (this after 2 training directors and 5 trainers were removed/fired w/in 2 years and one manager quit). For my temerity in suggesting that training be tied to real work with real mangers involved I had to be let go. I’ve done work since then, of course, but none w/in a training dep’t so I’ve never been able to implement some of my ideas, just tell others. You’ve nailed it all and then some.

    My key learning about all this came from one of my mentors, a very good trainer and co-founder/inventor of OD, T-groups, team building, and – unbelievably, the flip chart. He was stuck short handed when a client doubled his contract (he was too successful), and while I was still in training he added me to his consulting/training team. One of the reasons things went so well was that there were only two days of “just training.” all the rest was connected to some aspect of doing or planning work at the same time. The “training” became a part of what would later be dubbed “continuous improvement” as collaborative work between managers, supervisors, and all workers with thought leading
    “assists” from the team of consultants. I didn’t learn until later how rare an approach that was (see first paragraph).

    Final side note. It always amazed me one I learned of the four levels of training that a) nobody ever measured for IV – impact of training on the organizations, and b) never figured out that in most cases sending someone to training (especially those w/no responsibility for managing/leading others) meant there never was engagement with the rest of the team(s). Often people didn’t even know the person went to the training, let alone care what s/he learned, and certainly far from seeing if they could support that person in implementing what s/he’d learned. Training for almost anything not technical/mechanical is about something collaborative, most training departments do not build incliding “collaborators” in their plans.

    Sorry for the rant. Thanks again for the article. I hope it gains traction and stirs some changes.

    • Hi Arthur,

      Based on your statement that: “after 2 training directors and 5 trainers were removed/fired w/in 2 years and one manager quit:, I believe its easy to say that company didn’t have the willingness to implement any kind of lasting change. If so, why bother having a training department in the first place if they are all terminated?

      Training is too easy of a target for those that don’t understand it is only a part of a larger picture. Training for the sake of training will not change minds, only provide more information. Without the company providing support, as I mentioned in the post, we shouldn’t expect a positive outcome.

      Never be sorry for the rant. Ranting comes out of passion for the topic. Something too few have these days. Thanks.

  2. We can’t change attitudes or behaviours by training – we can change perceptions. If perceptions change then behaviours often follow. So totally agree that management going to training of ‘non-management’ staff will help to change the perception of management. In turn that may (repeat may) help management become more supportive. Equally though, what about non-management staff going to management training? Works both ways.

    • Hi Maddy,

      You are so right. Training in itself is not an end-all for the ills of a business. It is only a portion of the solution. Regarding non-management being allowed to join the training of management, yeah sure. Never happen…

      Thanks so much for your comment and joining my team. Come back anytime!


    • Hi Martin,
      You are correct. We can’t expect our employees to abide to our “rules” unless we abide by them too. Thanks for your comment, hope you like my blog.

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