Why do companies continue to deliver corporate-wide employee training in a way that ensures minimal results? Recently, I heard about two examples of national corporate offices requiring that employees in local offices attend their training programs. That is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the way in which each corporation did it is highly wasteful and does nothing to promote the respect and trust of employees, let alone improve performance. Unfortunately, this is typical of centralized training programs. In one case, franchisees were required to send all managers to a franchisor-led program on new customer-management software. In the other case, a local office of a national, land-development company was required to send all new employees to corporate-delivered, project-management software training.
In each case, employees were told by the home office to attend multi-day training programs in a distant city without any direction to have conversations with their bosses about the importance of this training to the company. Learners and bosses did not talk about how the training fits with individual development goals. They did not discuss mutual expectations for applying the training in the workplace. They did not plan how the training would be applied back home to make a difference in the organization. And they did not identify measures they could use to know if the training had contributed to business results. Without these conversations and goal-setting with their bosses, these employees are highly unlikely to apply what they learned in any significant way. The companies will, once again, have wasted valuable resources. In fact, it probably would have been better not to have offered the training in the first place.
Multi-location companies seem to believe that if they require employees in local offices to attend company training programs, that will ensure consistency in operations throughout the organization. This is purely wishful thinking. They will be lucky if more than 20% of those participants ever use what they learned back on the job. Many forces conspire to prevent application of learning, not the least of which is a lack of clear expectations for what will be learned and how that learning will be applied. For further explanation of the factors that ensure that training programs contribute to business results, read: The 5As Framework.