Courageous Training is the title of a new book by Tim Mooney and Robert O. Brinkerhoff. Some people reading this title might leap to the conclusion that this is a book about training people to be courageous. In a way, that is true. But the “people” in this case are trainers and managers of trainers and anyone who contributes to learning interventions in organizations. If you view your job to be delivering training workshops and courses to employees, then this book is not for you. However, if you view your job as using learning interventions to improve the performance and results of your organization, then this book is definitely for you. Four leaders that view their jobs in this way, tell their stories of how training and development programs contribute to important results for their organizations.

When training fails to contribute to significant results, part of the problem is usually that the learners are not prepared to learn. The authors describe the problem in this way:

From interviews with and surveys of hundreds of trainees across scores of organizations, we find that the most common reason that trainees give for attendance in a training program is:”My manager sent me”…Ask these trainees what they will learn, how they will use their learning on the job, what performance applications they will be held accountable for, or other questions about the focus and intentions of the training, and they are mostly stumped. (p. 79)

Nobody should attend a training program, whether front-line technical or strategic-level leadership, without knowing the answers to these questions. To participate in training, regardless of content and format, without knowing why you are there, what you should learn, and how you will apply that learning to achieve results in the workplace, is a waste of your time and company resources. One of the things that courageous trainers do is make sure that this rarely happens.