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We discuss the Great Training Robbery. Would your money be better spent on coaching?
Episode 725th May 2021 • The Coaching Question • The Coaching Question Podcast
00:00:00 00:27:28

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The Great Training Robbery

Sarah and Gregor ask the question whether or not training Is just a waste of money. If you’ve only got so much money, how should you be splitting your budget to get your best return.

We mention VUCA which stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. 

We reference the Harvard Business Review article Article, by Michael Beer, Magnus Finnstrom and Derek Schrader entitled ‘The Great Training Robbery’. The authors’ main premise is that a system must be changed before individual behavior can be changed through training programs. 

Some key points from the article were:

  • Transfer of learning: In 2012 U.S. corporations spent $164.2 billion on training and education Overwhelming evidence and experience shows, however, that most companies are unable to transfer employee learning into changes in individual and organization behavior or improved financial performance. a Meta analysis of many training studies finds that only 10% of training programs are effective.
  • HBR - Lack of impact in changing culture or performance: In research about a company wide leadership development program participants described as very powerful, surveys suggested that participants changed their attitudes and behavior during the program but two years later managers did not think the training had changed the organization’s effectiveness, its culture or its performance. 

Basically the senior leaders’ behaviour and the environment made it impossible for staff to change their behaviour.

If the answer to any of the ‘silent killers’ questions mentioned in the article is yes - The idea is that you shouldn’t start with training but consider a coaching led intervention first.

These are:

  • Unclear strategy, values and conflicting priorities
  • An ineffective senior team (See Team Coaching Podcast - number 4)
  • Leadership style – top down or laissez faire 
  • Poor coordination across functions, businesses and/or geographic regions
  • Inadequate leadership/management skills and development in the organization 
  • Closed vertical communication – truth cannot speak to power 

Where is training relevant and adds value? - differentiating between the two; training is good for specific or technical skills such as health and safety or technical skills.

Don’t try and get org-wide change through bottom up training approach - taking a complicated approach to a complex system.

We mentioned he book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle