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Top 9 Reasons Training Fails & Their Fixes

Uzair Hassan Identifies 9 reasons training fails and offers real solutions on how to fix them.


Simply put, training, in a vacuum, fails.

There has to be more to it than attending an event, as it often happens.

We have collated the top 9 reasons training fails, as well as their fixes.

Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Training is viewed as an event:

People are creatures of habit. The delegates attend the event and the vast majority of them go back to their daily lives and the pressure, deadlines, targets, phone calls etc. start again. They get sucked into the “daily grind” and everything goes back to square one. The “Event” is forgotten.

  • Fix: This perception needs to change. From an event (On the 1st of Nov. please attend this training event…Etc. etc.) to a PROCESS. A JOURNEY that one needs to go through. To experience. It should not be simply attending events, but moving through a process that ensures lessons learnt are utilized back on the job. Journey layering is the key.

2. TNA is not done effectively, if at all:

One group may think its problem “A” whereas the other group may think its problem “B”. Given this, training may end up as irrelevant or miss the mark or not address specific issues that require focus / what is pointedly required for the group attending. Effective Training Needs Analysis is the key / the basis.

  • Fix:  Training Needs Analysis is a science in-itself. There are so many approaches, variables and methods to get to the key sensitivities of the subject on hand. It must be dealt with in an equitable manner ensuring all stakeholders are heard and their needs are met. A deep dive TNA would provide much needed depth to training content, structure, focus, direction. Additionally, it would also provide a neutral balance to the differing narratives that may exist within the different stakeholders.

3. There is no accountability:

All this time, effort and money is spent on training and no one, post training, even asks the delegates what happened? what did you learn? How do you plan to utilize that knowledge? What are the next steps? etc. etc.

  • Fix: There has to be accountability built into the interventions. Who is going to do what, by when? What are the next steps? Delegates must create their own individual action plans at the end of the sessions and these must be shared with their line managers for effective follow up. They must be held accountable for utilization of lessons learnt and implementing and applying the knowledge learnt. A framework is needed, post training.

4. The sheer monotony and droning boredom of it all:

Have you ever been to one of those training sessions where the facilitator drones on and on? Monotonous / low volume / static, one-dimensional delivery?

  • Fix: Engagement. Fun sessions with live examples. A broad-based media mix including videos, questionnaires, exercises, group discussions, gamification etc. These play a huge part in making sure everyone is in on the game and not simply a bystander. Mixing it up, ensuring energy levels remain high and keeping the focus alive.

5. Information overload:

Even with the best of intentions, sometimes the amount of information being passed on is daunting to say the least. Gone are the days of 5-day training sessions. Even one full day of training provides far too much material for someone to imbibe it all, let alone remember it and utilize it.

  • Fix: One day sessions followed by strategic / tactical implementation structures for utilization of lessons learnt, followed by another day of training and the cycle repeats itself. Bite sized chunks with application arrangements. Secondly, specific 3-4 objectives per session, instead of 15 objectives per session with generic overlays.

6.  Implementation support:

Lessons learnt during training may be key, but implementing them is where the rubber meets the road. Without utilizing what was learnt, it remains just that. Information.

  • Fix: Exacting, specific, structured implementation strategies with clear application and    reporting assignments. Line managers to be included in the reporting structures and accountability for completion timelines put in place.

7. Line involvement:

Without the support of line managers, things usually don’t change. Delegates return to work, attempt to apply new ideas and are shot down by line managers, who want to avoid mistakes and ensure work continues (business as usual) as was, since it is time-tested and everyone is on board. No risk of failure.

  • Fix: Line Managers should be included in putting the workshops together and provide input on workshop coverage material. Their buy-in, since they are part of the solution now, coupled with providing structured forms, templates and reporting timelines to them for effective follow up would hold the key.

8. Too conceptual / Theoretical:

Academic education has its limitations. Providing ideas / concepts / theories etc. may be nice to have, but they do not translate into action and real-world applicability.

  • Fix: Real life relevance and examples play a key role in making the concepts clearer and easier to digest, and to make them come alive. Experience of life in the trenches always helps since one can narrate what happened to them and how they handled it.

9. Training in-itself is not the only solution, but is viewed as such:

There are management practitioners that believe training is the solution. In its entirety. Once the training takes place all their problems would go away. That is obviously not the case.

  • Fix: Support structures: (e.g. CX standards manuals, inter-departmental SLA’s, rewards & recognition schemes, effective metrics, processes & procedures, product integrity, workload assessments etc. etc. – Over 40 such structures/processes can be applied to ensure training does not get wasted) These support structures need to be in place to ensure training is supported and attendees are able to apply it effectively. As an example, if the person being trained is able and also willing to provide the highest level of service, but receives on average 400 calls per day, it severely curtails their ability to do so. Workload assessment applies here.

All in all, training (stand-alone events) simply do not cut it anymore.

Training is a means to an end and that end needs to be clear and laser focused. The process has to be robust and rich, relevant and supported, timely and applicable.

Providing support throughout the process is the only way to offer assurance of its success. Seeing the bigger pictures of the myriad elements that help make it all come alive is the key.

OPINION PIECE: Uzair Hassan, CEO, 3h Solutions, Dubai (uzair.hassan@3hsolutions.biz)