Avoiding Training Pitfalls

In an ideal world, training will always be successful. There are ways that training can go wrong, however, and forewarned is forearmed. According to a strategic planning workshop on human capital sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' (NIEHS) Worker Education and Training Program (WETP), there are several possible problems that can lead to either trainer burnout and/or a less-than-successful training program. Here’s what can go wrong, along with ways to make it right:

How Trainers Develop Burnout

  • They get in a rut by always training the same topic.
  • They get in a rut by always using the same training methods.
  • They are discouraged because of management’s lack of support.
  • Their hands are tied by an inadequate budget.
  • They do not receive ongoing train-the-trainer instruction.
  • They do not receive proper materials or instruction for training across language barriers or cultural differences.
  • They do not get onto the floor enough to customize their training beyond book learning.

How to Keep Trainers Fresh

  • Rotate trainers onto different topics.
  • Encourage using a variety of training methods.
  • Promote your program to management and get their verbal and public support; ask management to personally encourage trainers.
  • Present a realistic and ambitious budget that provides for all your training needs.
  • Encourage and provide for ongoing training and career development for trainers.
  • Assess your training audience ahead of time and provide trainers with language-appropriate materials and cross-cultural information.
  • Arrange for trainers to visit the operations in which they train on a regular basis to keep current on new methods.

Why Training Programs Fail

  • No training goals are set.
  • Training goals are not in line with company goals.
  • No accountability measurements are set up for trainers or trainees.
  • Training is regarded as a one-time event and not as an ongoing need.
  • Little or no support is given from upper management.

How to Make Your Training Program Succeed

  • Set specific training goals with a committee that includes top management.
  • Align training goals directly with the company’s strategic and financial goals.
  • Set up an accountability system to measure the effectiveness of trainers and trainees; determine whether trainers successfully communicate information and whether trainees successfully apply what they’ve learned to improve their job performance.
  • Design a training schedule that includes ongoing training, such as beginner, intermediate, and advanced as well as refresher training. Incorporate this calendar into the company’s calendar of holidays and other company events.
  • Always have a representative from upper management on your training committee to ensure that training is an integral part of your company’s present and future plans for success.