March 2016

Training Is a Dead End
Why employees are avoiding Training and eLearning in droves.
Consider the results of a Corporate Leadership Council survey of 1500 managers in 53 organizations around the world:
  • 76% felt that their Learning and Development function was ineffective or very ineffective in helping them achieve business targets
  • Only 14% would actively recommend to a colleague that they work with the L&D department.

The results are not surprising since most L&D functions have followed the same approach to adult education for decades, an approach that just does not work.  Formal event-based classes or structured eLearning with standardized curriculum may be effective at imparting knowledge but are not typically effective in  transferring knowledge into practice and are woefully inadequate in achieving meaningful behavior change.  If you guessed that only about 15% to 20% of training content gets applied in a way that makes a difference, you wouldn't be far off. That means that of the roughly $60 Billion spent on Leadership Development annually, $51 Billion is wasted.  Match that waste with the survey conducted by Chief Learning Officer magazine in which 77% of respondents did not feel that employees were keeping up with the needs of the business and the picture is unsettling.


The chief reason for training dismal record is that the competencies critical for success in today's workplace, competencies like agility, adaptability, resilience, critical thinking and managing complexity, cannot be developed from a training event.  Training addresses knowledge.  What's needed are skills.  (Check out my whitepaper, The Best Way to Waste Money on Training, for more discussion of the causes of low-impact training.)


We have known since the 1980's that key work-place competencies are developed informally by navigating challenging experiences laced with social interactions with others who can provide ideas, role models, support and coaching. Instruction can play a role by providing specific knowledge that is needed right at the time the learner needs it - not weeks away in a classroom where most of the content is irrelevant and out of the context of the work challenge.  This is the 70:20:10 model of development.  I regularly confirm the model when I ask leaders to draw a map of their career growth.  When we review where the most significant development occurred, it invariably involves a key job, project or assignment and important other people.  A training event seldom, if ever, comes up.

From my perspective, several significant changes need to occur to halt training and development's inexorable march to extinction.

  1. Get L&D out of the event delivery business.  Build expertise in L&D that can effectively diagnose business needs and prescribe interventions that have an impact.  The interventions will seldom be training alone.
  2. Understand the competencies critical to driving your organization's success.  Select the critical few competencies, know the availability of the skill in your organization at all levels and construct intentional development to enhance the skills.
  3. Capitalize on the 70:20:10 model.  Build intentional learning and development into daily work and not bolt it on as an activity to check off or event to attend.  Hire, assign and promote people who can "hit the ground developing" and benefit the most from the new experience.
  4. Reinforce contributing to the development others as much as individual performance.  Build performance expectations that emphasize and recognize the importance of assisting others in their learning and contributing to a broader network.
  5. Create a feedback rich environment.  Change the old performance review approach to a regular cadence of feedback, coaching, asking and listening versus a once-a-year assessment.  Create opportunities for team- and peer-based feedback.


 First Annual Strategic Talent Management Survey
Survey Summit

Discover the Talent Management Practices That Make a Difference in Growth, Returns and Service

I recently collaborated with the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association and the Pittsburgh Technology Council on the First Annual Strategic Talent Management Survey, creating a unique opportunity to explore the talent management practices that organizations in our region are using to drive results.

The results of the STM Survey will be unveiled on March 24.  Join colleagues from the PHRA and Tech Council to:
  • Delve into the survey results
  • Discover which talent practices are being used by high-performing organizations, and,
  • Compare notes on how key talent tools could be applied in your organization.
We will also be discussing follow-up Application Workshops in which leaders and talent professionals can learn about and apply the top talent management practices that make a difference

When:     Thursday, March 24, 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM. Breakfast included.
Where:    Pittsburgh Technology Council, 2000 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15219.   Free Parking.

Survey participants are eligible to win a Free Pass to the Summit!

If you haven't completed the survey click here to participate or paste this link in your browser:

Michael's Upcoming Events
Who's Taking Over:  Creating Your Next Generation of Leaders
Workshop presented by Michael and Richard Citrin
Pittsburgh, PA
March 10, 2016
Strategy Execution:  Living Your Mission, Vision and Values
Presentation at the Valve Manufacturers Association Annual CEO Forum
March 22, 2016
Denver, CO
HR's Role in Strategy Execution
Presentation at the PHRA HR 101 201 301 Workshop
March 30, 2016
Developing Your Next Generation of Leaders
May 5, 2016
Mt. Laurel, New Jersey

Who's Taking Over: Creating Your Next Generation of Leaders
Presentation at the WHRA Annual Conference
May 19, 2016
Latrobe, PA
HR's Role in Executing Strategy
Presentation at the Maryland State SHRM Conference
October 9 -11, 2016
Ocean City, MD
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