Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

As an active participant in the corporate L&D market I am often called to meet prospective customers who have disgruntled line management and frustrated L&D teams looking for a better way. It would appear the budget holders, the operational folk, are dissatisfied with the results that L&D deliver. These results being measured in performance and productivity improvement rather than number of training courses delivered. Fact is most operational management want L&D to deliver better employees and are on the whole willing to pay for it. L&D are on the same page so where does it go wrong?

Time is the answer. Time away from the workplace participating in training. I’m not talking about 5 day residential courses at some swanky hotel for the Exec, I’m talking about the odd few hours there and there for the first line support and customer services teams of large brands. The fact is for any training to work it must be learned and retained before it can be acted upon. Training interventions do not equal learning outcomes. There must be a structured knowledge retention strategy. I mean otherwise we would all be subject matter experts after each and every training course we attend and kids would never bother to revise for exams because they ‘learned it’ in the lesson, right?

Wrong. Repetition is a critical component of any knowledge retention strategy. The brain requires this to learn almost anything. The trouble is operational management is under such commercial pressure to man the phones and process transactions, that they cannot afford for employees to be away from the workplace, even for essential knowledge retention activity. L&D go along with it, perhaps voicing their misgivings, but deep down most know that without a knowledge retention strategy then the training content will be largely forgotten.

The end result, operational management lose faith in training as a legitimate strategy for improving enterprise productivity and performance and look for other (more effective in their eyes) solutions. Investment in training therefore falls as the sector becomes consumed in a race to the bottom where training is delivered in the shortest possible time for the lowest cost. Which only compounds the problem.

You can’t cheat how the brain works so perhaps the trade bodies that represent the L&D industry could be more honest about the effectiveness of training without a formal and thorough knowledge retention strategy. It strikes me that for as long as these dusty organisations are unwilling to publicly admit that training does not work without investment in knowledge retention then the L&D practitioners will always find themselves in a difficult position.

Fortunately we use cutting edge Artificial Intelligence that uses less than 1 minute 45 seconds of an employee’s day to guarantee that what is trained is learned and can evidence that this micro time footprint is drawn from otherwise unproductive time so has no negative impact on employee availability for work and our clients get pay-back on all their training investments. They do of course have to invest in our AI and those operational folk need to pay, and on the whole management is willing to do so if they can be assured (guaranteed) results.

Whose fault is this situation? You be the judge. In my experience you can’t fix a problem until somebody is willing to admit that there is a problem. I wonder who should be manning-up and addressing the elephant on the table?