Being tasked with building or managing a training organization is a larger-than-life responsibility. Mistakes will happen – but here are the ten most common training mistakes and how to avoid them.
Building and managing a training department is a difficult task. Mistakes can be made in many areas of training and development, but there are some common mistakes that you and your staff can avoid. Here are the top ten training mistakes – from development and delivery to funding.
One: Setting up the expectation that each training participant will end up with exactly the same knowledge. Adults learn in different ways and focus on different material. When that happens, Participant #1 may have a different knowledge base than Participant #2 when the training is complete. To avoid this problem, provide your students a general outline of what’s covered in training and what they are expected to learn.
Two: A lack of examples that illustrate the points. It’s necessary to show people how to learn by giving them examples during training. The examples must be pertinent to the material and should stay in the mind of the learner. If this is left out, trainees may have knowledge but may not be able to function in the actual environment. Evaluate your training programs for real-life, pertinent examples.
Three: Lack of knowledge about the audience and their experience. Take the time to find out who the target audience is, what they may already know, and how experienced they are. Take a pre-program survey or visit the field, but do something to get to know them – before training is delivered.
Four: A trainer fails to prepare for a regular presentation. It’s easy to become complacent, especially for trainers who deliver the same courses on a regular basis. Make sure the trainers are taking adequate time to review their material and run through their presentations – every time. When this happens, delivery will be fresh and full of new ideas, examples, and energy.
Five: A trainer tells an audience it’s his or her first time to deliver a certain course. This can be a fatal, although totally honest, mistake in regard to credibility. Trainers should appear to be the expert – even if they don’t feel like it.
Six: A trainer turns questions over to an in-class Subject Matter Expert (SME). If your stakeholders and SME’s observe training, make sure that trainers do not turn in-class questions over to the Expert. Have trainers keep a “parking lot” list of questions, find the answers, and report back to the audience. This way, your trainer maintains credibility.
Seven: Developing training courses without a front-end analysis. You may get requests from managers for training in certain areas. Don’t build training until you find out what the people in the jobs are doing, what they’re not doing, or what they’re going to be expected to do in the future. Take a survey, visit the field, and interview line workers – but find out what’s really happening out on the job BEFORE development begins.
Eight: Pulling trainers from the front line without preparing them first. Many of the best trainers come from the front line. But don’t place a new trainer in a classroom without giving them preparation in learning styles, training methods, and presentation skills. Put together an “orientation” for a new trainer, have them observe a more seasoned trainer, and then you can observe and oversee the new trainer in the classroom.
Nine: Building a bigger organization than necessary. Don’t build an organization that suits an industry trend – build one that suits your audience. A “corporate university” may intimidate the employees of a small company. On the other side, a large company may feel there is not sufficient ROI if the training department delivers only a few courses. Again, obtaining an intimate knowledge of your audience and management’s expectation is the key.
Ten: Forgetting to get buy-in from the person who controls the money – the stakeholder. In some organizations, CFO’s sometimes spend money on a training department and facilities without being asked an opinion. If this is your case, go to the money person and explain what you intend to do – and what the financial impacts may be. Get the stakeholder on your side – even if he or she is already signing checks. If budget money becomes tight, training programs are sometimes the first to be cut, unless you’ve taken the time to explain how training is a positive investment.
When you’re aware of these mistakes and how to avoid them, your training program and department will be ten steps closer to success.
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