Training is useless…

unless there’s some relevance to what’s being taught to either the current role or some future role that’s being undertaken by the delegates.

A sweeping statement, but true nevertheless.

Let me explain where this all comes from.

We have been working with a US based company to help give its trainers the skills they need to move from being order takers – you know the sort of thing: ‘I need a sales training course’ and the trainer says: ‘Sure.  When do you want it and for how many people?’ – to being Internal Consultants or Business Partners: ‘I need a sales training course.’  Trainer: ‘Really?  Why?  What other issues do we need to address before delivering your course?’

Now this is a big ask for three pretty significant reasons:

Reason 1: Legacy.  Over many years the training team has traditionally been seen as ‘order takers’ and it’s going to be difficult to change the mind-set of the business given this history.

If the delegates go back this week and start acting as BPs, all that will happen is that managers will say: ‘Ha ha!  Good course was it?  Now, when can I have my sales training course?’

Reason 2: Senior Management Support.  This course was commissioned by the Global Training Manager and his boss and they are right behind the step up in role.  The problem is, the rest of the business is, at best, ambivalent to the change, or actually opposed to it.

This is because it will require them to do more thinking and, probably, relinquish a bit of control, too… or, at least, in their minds it will!  After all, those pesky trainers will start asking them questions and what do they know?

There is an alternative reason that management is not backing the change: they do not believe in consultancy.  Like a guy we were pitching to said to me ‘You’re such a typical consultant.  You’ve asked be loads of questions about my own business!’


‘Well, that’s like asking to borrow my watch and then telling me the time!’

I mean, I ask you!

Reason 3: Self belief… or lack of it.  And this is far more significant than both the other reasons put together.  Fundamentally, the group of delegates we had didn’t actually believe they were going to be able to implement what they were learning.

Oh, they understood the principles alright.  They were even good at the techniques we were teaching, such in depth questioning, data analysis and so on.

And yet, we were faced with constant challenges and delays, usually prefaced by: ‘I’d just like to flag that the VP of the area where I work won’t let me do that!’

When you send your people on a course that they’ve asking to go on, please make sure there’s a realistic chance of them putting their learning into practice… and tell them so before they come.

It makes my life a lot easier.


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