Training is Mostly a Waste of Time

I do appreciate that such a title will lead me to be removed from the Christmas Card list of many of my training consultant buddies, but I also know that many will agree! The so-called 70:20:10 rule, developed in the 80s by McCall, Lombardo and Exchanger, is well known but all-too rarely used in training design in my experience. This rule emphasises the day to day experience of learners in doing their jobs (70%) as key to learning and performance success, with colleagues highlighted as contributing towards learning (20%). Formal training was said to provide only 10% of the good stuff.

This reminds me of a time when I invited a contact to deliver training at the then named Sussex Probation Area – Harvey Ratner is an expert practitioner and trainer in Solution Focused Therapy which had a great deal to offer Probation Officers struggling with people whose lifestyle was causing havoc! Harvey’s two days were truly fabulous, he really engaged with the audience who responded well, using the ideas Harvey was sharing. At the end of the event something unprecedented and completely unexpected happened – the delegate group spontaneously rose to their feet and applauded Harvey. It was very moving and, as the Training Manager, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Turning to one delegate I remarked what a great course it had been – she agreed but completely floored me by saying “but it will never work around here”. You know what? She was dead right. Although the course was talked about positively there was no perceptible use of the techniques taught on the course – EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME! Bewildering! It’s worth remembering that people have their ways of doing things, habits which are hard to change.

I’m delighted to be working a South East public sector organisation which wants to do something different. Rather than merely commissioning a training course based on gaps that they have identified, they have decided to take a structured approach which places learning within the current habits, practice and managerial behaviours of the department. This is how it will work

– An Appreciative Inquiry process, in itself a development tool which will also allow the group to identify what it needs to do to move the departments performance on to achieve more

– Management team session – using the Appreciative Inquiry process AND the outcomes of the first session, this conversation will be about how the managers can help the teams move in the highlighted direction

– Training Day. On this day I will be bringing content to help the development process. Bearing in mind, of course, that the teams and managers are already working on this in the day to day practice. The intention here is to bring new material to people who are already in the process of changing

– Learning review. 6 weeks after the Training Day. During this half day I’ll be asking the participants about what they are already doing that’s working, what are the new approaches that are useful, encouraging managers to comment on the impact of all this on performance and asking those present to set further intentions

Now this sounds expensive – much more training time than the “day course” approach. Not so I think. There are 48 people involved, including the managers. I’m guessing that most of us would think that was three courses – to get a workable group size to allow interactions etc. I charge £500 for public/vol sector training so that’s £1500. The daily rate for facilitation is a little more – £600 for a day or £350 for a half day. However, the nature of Appreciative Inquiry facilitation means that you can have large groups – 48 is fine. The costs of three half days and one full day training is £1550.

Drop me a line if you’d like to chat more.




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