I realized something while speaking at a recent meet-up for the Silicon Valley American Association of Inside Sales Professionals. The majority of companies are approaching training wrong.
PowerPoint, Paper and Podiums — they continue to be the tools of choice for organizations from SMB’s to Enterprise. Tools that continue to reinforce the POV that training is all about knowledge transfer. That it is all about a data dump. And that it is all just about getting employees to memorize “stuff” quickly.
There is a hell of a lot more to it than that. And here are 3 mistakes companies are making that are resulting in training being a waste of energy, a waste of time and a waste of money.
#1: Naive to Skill Gaps
What is the most important thing leaders need to be aware of today when it comes to new hires?
The average young person today that comes out of a university has totally different skill gaps than previous generations.
And I’m not going to use the ‘M’ word which we are all tired of hearing (millennials, millennials, millennials), but the average millennial coming out of a university and entering the workforce has skill gaps unique to their generation.
For example, I know when I was 23 years old I had spoken tens of thousands of minutes on a cell phone or face to face. By comparison — an average 23 year old today has probably only spoken a fraction of that time.
So, what do we do?
#2: Over-trusting Manuals & Modules (aka, Being Lazy)
We close our eyes and continue to do more of the same.
What we are doing today is like promoting a high school football player to the NFL and putting them on the field in the Super Bowl. Basically, we have employees with a fraction of the experiences that are necessary to form the critical skills and habits that help them succeed at work. In an example of an employee going on to become a sales rep it should be understood that learning how to sell is a skill. And if you just haven’t had enough experiences (conversations, interactions, discussions…NOT text messages), you have a gap that will greatly impact the amount (and type) of training needed to be prepared. Bottom line — the training tools you deploy have to close the gap.
Unfortunately, our people have these new skill gaps but we are still using old shit. Fact: 91% of corporate training today is still delivered by either an online learning management system (LMS) or by live training with an internal or external trainer.
Something to think about real quick…do a quick survey with your latest new hires coming out of a university with $30k+ in debt. The last thing they want to do is take on a learning module, or go through a course. They don’t wanna do it. It is as much a format problem as it is a branding problem with the way we position training to our people.
#3: Not Training the Manager
In sports — the best player is rarely the best coach. And most companies so often take their best rep and promote them up into a manager role. They don’t tool them. They don’t guide them. They don’t coach them how to coach.
It’s not that it’s a bad choice to make them a manager, but when we put them in a management role we have to ask, “Are we giving them tools to succeed?” Or, are we just saying here’s an LMS…good luck.
BTW — has anyone ever built a learning module before? It’s a pain in the ass, takes a lot of time, and even if you have a degree in educational design it is still going to take you days or weeks to properly complete the design of a module. We need to tool up managers, with resources they can deploy right away and that they’re comfortable with, so that they can build a skill set to better coach and mentor their people. Because the ending to this story is usually a manager that quits (or moves on) and an organization left to start from scratch again by promoting the next best employee into a role with a limited coaching playbook.
So, what do we do next…
One thing comes to mind when I look at companies. We need better tools. We need tools to close the gaps our employees have, and it starts with the understanding that training is not an ‘either-or’, it’s an ‘and’.
And, that means we should have a bunch of tools. Call it your Training Stack, and it should include things like:
- Learning, Training, and Development Team
- Mobile Training Games/Gamification
- Reward/Recognition Programs
- External Trainers
- Learning Management Platform
- and more…
You should have a bunch of tools. And, you should be training employees from different angles because you know that closing skill gaps are critical to getting your people prepared, confident and ready to work…from Day One.
“Practice is designed. So, it can be designed well, or designed badly.”
Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated